Leading from Within

Fulton (Tony) Gale III, FAIA

Starbucks Corporate Architect

Tony Gale, FAIA, is Starbucks Corporate Architect. He was on the USGBC’s Board of Directors from 2006 to 2009, was Seattle City Architect under mayors Paul Schell and Greg Nickels, and has practiced internationally since 1973 as a principal owner of two award-winning architectural firms.

At Starbucks, we’re proud to have been a leader for more than a decade in the development and implementation of a scalable green building program for companies—both retail and beyond. Today we have 1,200 LEED–certified stores in nearly 20 countries and sustainable building has become our standard. I’m proud to have been a founding member of this program and even more proud of the progress we’ve made as an organization.

Prior to joining Starbucks, I was Seattle’s city architect from 1999 to 2004 where I led a 20-person team managing the city’s green building policy. I joined Starbucks 11 years ago as corporate architect and found an organization that was passionate about contributing to the communities it serves. Green building and environmental stewardship provide a natural foundation for this commitment, and we look to invest in our communities.

Back in 2010, when Starbucks looked to initiate our volume LEED program, we took an approach of broad integration of green building design and performance throughout the organization, and one that we believe can be done by companies large and small. We did this by:

  • Conducting extensive LEED role-specific training across global organization of design, construction, and facilities partners (employees).
  • Resourcing LEED commission internally, among our internal facilities organization, elevating individual and team environmental acumen.
  • Sponsoring more than 85 Starbucks partners to achieve LEED accreditation.
  • Developing internal awareness campaigns, by hosting “Lunch and Learns,” forming a “Partner Network,” and providing information-sharing forums.

This integrated approach is paying off not only in new stores but also in all existing stores, and the results of this comprehensive approach have gone beyond the obvious.

  • In December 2010, the Starbucks Board of Directors approved an aggressive sustainable building policy, committing the brand to building all new company-owned stores to achieve LEED certification.
  • Starbucks has partnered with USGBC’s leadership to deliver a solution that could keep pace with the company’s growth globally, which would ultimately form the LEED Volume certification program.
  • LEED program requirements are now embedded in drawing and specification standards.
  • Significant improvements in energy and water performance have been realized, contributing to conservation targets and financial performance.
  • Starbucks has achieved greater levels of LEED certification globally including Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
  • Our commitment has fostered a culture of personal accountability and innovation with partners around the world identifying ways of bringing sustainability to life in our stores.

We are continually evolving to deliver more sustainable solutions in our green building design, construction, and operations in an industry that is rapidly evolving. As we look to the future, we remain committed to being on the leading side of this evolution as we play our part in creating a sustainable future for the planet.


Tony Gale, III