DALLAS (April 21, 2010) -- The Army & Air Force Exchange Service is doing its part to be a good environmental steward and "green" leader in the Department of Defense as it takes steps in building and renovating exchanges worldwide to have a smaller impact on the environment.

AAFES will celebrate the Army's first post exchange designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, at a grand opening ceremony at Fort Polk, La., April 29. That will be followed by the first LEED shoppette at Fort Bragg, N.C., in June and then a lifestyle center at Fort Bliss, Texas, in October.

The very first LEED exchange actually opened at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, March 5. The base exchange -- designed to use energy-saving materials, more efficient lighting and improved recycling processes -- is expected to receive LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council within the year.

The LEED certification program is an internationally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

"We take very seriously the impact our facilities have on the environment," said Col. Virgil Williams, AAFES chief of staff. "Using excess energy and failing to recycle is not only wasteful and costly but also a burden on the Earth. AAFES is doing its part to set high 'green' standards for the Department of Defense and the next generation of exchange shoppers."

Some of the key energy-saving features of a LEED certified exchange includes:

- Light emitting diodes, or LED, in showcases use less energy and generate brighter lighting.

- Food court restaurants with energy-efficient walk-in coolers that use 27 percent less energy.

- The energy management system coordinates heating, ventilating, air conditioning and lighting systems in unison to improve energy efficiency and reduce overall costs.

- Low "gallons per flush" toilets and waterless urinals.

- Roofing membranes reflect 78 percent of light/ultraviolet rays to keep buildings cooler and reduce energy costs.

In 2009, AAFES designed 30 construction projects to meet LEED standards. Projects range from BXs/Post Exchanges, shoppettes (convenience stores), to mini-malls and restaurants.

Not only does the environment benefit from the high "green" standards at which the facilities will operate, but thousands are saved in utility costs, AAFES officials said. They explained that LEED shopping centers will save 25-30 percent in annual energy costs.