Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Starbucks: New form, function for your coffee experience


Starbucks Coffee / "One person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time."

Visit Seattle like I did during the recent Christmas holiday and one quickly notices that the Emerald City is a world center for coffee-drinking enthusiasts. One need only thank Starbucks, the American global coffee company and coffeehouse chain that's based here, for inspiring and nurturing the human spirit of "one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time."

An environmental mission statement.
While it seems like there's a Starbucks on every city block throughout much of Seattle -- including some very hip and trendy ones in Queen Anne and on Capitol Hill -- there's one in the Ballard neighborhood in northwest Seattle (5221 15th Avenue NW) that's unlike any I've ever seen before: it's a multi-use, drive-thru/walk-up store made out of mobile and energy-efficient used shipping containers. That's right. Industrial-looking, used shipping containers. "Truly a Ballard look!" wrote a commenter on Yelp earlier this year. The industrial containers have an etching of the Ballard Bridge above the walk-up window and there's a map of Seattle and the Puget Sound on the fa├žade.

Why did Starbucks build this? A message to its customers, printed on the side, explains the concept: "Starbucks relies on shipping containers for transportation around the world. We also rely on the planet we all share, and we believe in doing things that are good for the earth. This means finding solutions that keep things like old shipping containers out of the waste stream. So we've found a way to reuse them to make stores like this. Learn more at starbucks.com/responsibility."

Starbucks is committed to building green spaces, its website informs its customers. "By building environmentally sound stores and facilities, conserving the energy and water we use and purchasing renewable energy credits, we're pushing ourselves to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations"

An etching of the Ballard
Bridge appears above the
walk-up window at the 

Reclamation Drive-Thru in
the Ballard neighborhood.
The drive-thru and walk-up location in Ballard, built using four used end-of-life-cycle shipping containers, measures about 450 square feet. Shipping containers have become trendy building material and this seems a natural for what is an area with a lot of car traffic.

Because Starbucks coffee and tea is shipped from their countries of origin using shipping containers, it's as if it's come full circle. One small sustainable container holds garbage, recycling and storage.

The whole store is contained within the shells of four containers that have been reclaimed, refurnished, renewed and revived. And according to the Starbucks website: "Savings go beyond storage containers, as well. The store reduces material use with simplified, environmental signage. The building itself serves as a sign post, while form painting on the asphalt intuitively guides customers into the drive-thru.

"Rainwater collected from the roof of the drive-thru is used to nourish surrounding landscaping. Xeriscaping (selecting plants that naturally require less water) helps reduce water consumption And in the event that the store needs a new location, the entire structure can be disassembled and moved."

Indeed, the sustainable store design for the 21st century -- the Reclamation Drive-Thru -- is in action. And, it's forever changed the form and function of our Starbucks Coffee experience.

Photos: Courtesy of Yelp.com.

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