Merit Partners Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings have been named recipients of the Industrial Project of the Year award by NAIOP for REI Goodyear DC, a distribution center for Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), located at PV|303, a master planned business park in Goodyear, Arizona.

The facility is the only net zero energy, U.S. Green Building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified distribution center in the world. Its roof features a 2.2 megawatt solar system that produces enough energy to power the entire facility, or the equivalent of 390 homes for one year.

“We are very proud and honored that REI partnered with our team to develop the most sustainable distribution center in the world at PV|303,” said Kevin Czerwinski, president of Merit Partners, Inc. “Our entire team embraced the REI culture and vision from the beginning, which made it a fun and invigorating development experience.”

“While we are pleased to receive this award, I must acknowledge the collaborative work from Craig Porter, our builder from Renaissance; Jeff Cutberth, our designer from Butler Design Group; and Kevin Czerwinski, our developer from Merit Partners, all who made the vision of a LEED Platinum, energy net neutral, omnichannel facility come to life. And, after almost a year of operations, we could not be more pleased operating this facility and becoming a member of the Goodyear community,” said Rick Bingle, vice president, supply chain, REI.

REI’s integration of advanced technology and sustainability resulted in the industry’s first omnichannel one-touch fulfillment system. This system combines retail and customer orders at each workstation, enabling one person to process items eight times faster than they would at a typical distribution center. The system is fully powered by renewable energy and will support more than 40 percent of REI’s sales—reaching approximately 36 percent of customers and 41 percent of the total retail volume.

The distribution center’s architecture, both inside and out, reflects the organic qualities of an outdoor environment, setting a culture and mindset that increases productivity and commitment to operational success. REI designed the facility to conserve water and protect the delicate environment of the surrounding Arizona desert. REI chose a non-evaporative cooling system, which keeps temperatures consistent from floor to ceiling while saving millions of gallons of water annually.

The entire project team was tasked with fully integrating the design of the shell, tenant improvements and material handling equipment, which compressed the construction schedule and reduced potential change orders for re-work.

REI Goodyear DC was designed by Butler Design Group in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Institute, who led a three-day design session early in the process to think creatively about how to achieve REI’s ambitious sustainability and technology goals. The developer and owner advocates were Merit Partners, Inc. and Sunbelt Holdings, and the builder was The Renaissance Companies. Technology design and implementation was led by DMW&H and KNAPP, and the LEED certification was led by CBRE. EDF Climate Corps were involved early in the process to determine the financial feasibility of the project

The facility employs over 120 team members and is celebrated by both the City of Goodyear and the State of Arizona as a best in class example of sustainable development.

“NAIOP is honored to recognize Merit Partners and Sunbelt Holdings for their innovation and collaboration with REI that resulted in this exceptional LEED Platinum distribution center at PV|303,” said Thomas Bisacquino, NAIOP president and CEO. “NAIOP members are on the cutting-edge, creating the most innovative and effective industrial spaces, and it’s our privilege to recognize this project’s developers for their commitment to advancing industrial real estate.”

The Industrial Project of the Year award will be presented on Friday, June 9, at NAIOP’s I.CON: The Industrial Conference in Long Beach, California.