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USGBC seeks feedback on LEED rating system

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The U.S. Green Building Council, which is in the process of updating its LEED certification system for commercial buildings, has opened a public comment period for the next 30 days, until June 22. The updated rating system, called LEED 2009, will focus on improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and addressing environmental and human health issues.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building standards were first introduced in 2000.

“The ‘big ideas’ we’ve proposed include transparent weightings of LEED credits so the highest priority credits achieve the most points, a new mechanism for incorporating bioregional credits and a more nimble framework that supports rapid response to emerging environmental and human health issues,” said Scot Horst, chairman of the volunteer LEED steering committee.

For more information, visit www.usgbc.org/LEED.

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Dale Pond named to media company board

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Dale Pond, the former Lowe’s executive, will join the board of Scripps Networks Interactive. The new board is being formed as E.W. Scripps, which encompasses cable networks, newspapers, broadcast television stations, electronic commerce and interactive media services, splits into two publicly traded companies on July 1.

Scripps Network Interactive will include cable TV channels such as HGTV and The Food Network as well as online businesses (shopping portals like Shopzilla).

Aformer executive at Payless Cashways and other home improvement retailers, Pond worked at Lowe’s for 12 years before retiring in 2005 as the executive vp-merchandising and marketing.

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Store closings knock Home Depot earnings down

BY HBSDEALER Staff

First-quarter net earnings at the nation’s largest home channel retailer fell 66 percent to $356 million from $1.05 billion in the same period last year.

The significant drop in net earnings was due to a one-time charge of $543 million, stemming from the retailer’s plan to close 15 stores and take 50 previously planned new stores off the docket.

Additionally, Home Depot saw a same store sales drop of 7.3 percent.

Net sales fell 3.4 percent to $17.9 billion from $18.56 billion in the same period last year.

“The housing and home improvement markets remained difficult in the first quarter; in fact, conditions worsened in many areas of the country,” said Frank Blake, Home Depot chairman and CEO, in a statement. “We will continue to invest wisely in our core retail business to earn our customers’ confidence and ensure the long-term health of our business.”  During the company’s earnings call with investors, Blake said the plan to slow store growth is expected to free up $1 billion over the next three years.

Blake also characterized the plan to close stores and curtail store growth as a disciplined approach to capital allocation, adding, “This discipline and reinvestment in our existing stores will benefit our shareholders, associates and customers.”

Craig Menear, executive vp merchandising, said Home Depot experienced negative sales growth across all departments, except lawn and garden. Most regions were down, but some strength was recorded in the Ohio Valley region, as well as in the company’s Canada, Mexico and China operations, all of which experienced comp store sales growth.

The retailer is planning to concentrate on grabbing market share in several key product categories, namely ceramic tile, faucets and bath fixtures, Menear said.

Chief financial officer Carol Tome said the company at the moment was more comfortable with numbers on the lower-end of the retailer’s full-year guidance for profit from continuing operations. The company currently expects that profit to drop by between 19 and 24 percent year-over-year. Tome also noted that the company took a broad look at its store base in determining which 15 stores in the country to close ??three of those stores were less than three years old, she said.

Check back at homechannelnews.com for coverage of the Home Depot annual meeting of stockholders, slated for May 20.

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