Whole Foods Overhauls Energy Savings Program

by | Apr 22, 2009

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wholefoodsWhole Foods Market is launching a major energy program that more than triples the number of stores with solar panels, extends its commitment to offset 100 percent of its use of non-renewable electricity with wind energy, and reduces energy use, which includes retrofitting existing stores with energy-efficient lighting, equipment and mechanical components.

The Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain plans to add solar to more than 20 additional locations; including existing installations, solar will be installed at more than 30 stores. The company continues to offset electricity use in its North American locations in 2009, bringing its four-year total purchase to 2 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy credits from wind farms.

Whole Foods is also focused on reducing emissions and energy savings, in part through its membership in the Department of Energy’s Retail Energy Alliance. The grocer continues to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by using on-site alternative and renewable energy sources for new stores while reducing energy consumption in existing stores and facilities.

Touted as a first for a supermarket, Whole Food’s Glastonbury, Conn., store uses an on-site hydrogen fuel cell that generates 50 percent of the electricity and heat and nearly 100 percent of the hot water needed to operate the store. The green grocer plans to add fuel cells to other locations.

In addition, Whole Foods Market claims to be the first national retailer to produce all of its national in-store Earth Month materials using “third generation” closed-loop recycled papers thanks to the help of Mohawk Fine Papers.

The grocer also has five stores that have earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification, and the first store to receive the EPA’s Silver Level Store certification through the GreenChill Partnership.

Other supermarkets are moving toward the same goal. As an example, Cub Foods in St. Paul, Minn., will have its second LEED Gold grocery store in the United States, reported the Southern California Real Estate Blog. The grocery chain also has received the EPA’s GreenChill Partnership Gold-Level Certification.

The 62,900-square-foot Cub Foods store has 44 skylights that will illuminate 75 percent of regularly occupied spaces, using a solar-powered GPS system that redirects sunlight as needed, together with LED lights used in the parking lot, to deliver a 35-percent energy savings, reported the blog. Other green features include recycling half the waste from demolished buildings on the site, a water-saving landscape irrigation system, and recycling of building construction materials.

In California, Raley’s grand opening celebration of its green grocery store in the Petaluma Plaza shopping center will take place on Earth Day. The grocery store is the second in the nation to receive the EPA’s Gold-Level Certification through the GreenChill Partnership.

Both Shaw’s Supermarkets and Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. are making their stores greener. Shaw’s Newton, Mass. store, for example, will generate 90 percent of its electricity from a 400-kilowatt fuel cell powered by natural gas. Last year, 51 Stop & Shop stores received LEED certification.

Reusable packaging is another big issue for retail grocery stores as part of their sustainability practices. As an example, The Kroger Co. is holding its second annual online Kroger’s Design a Reusable Shopping bag contest, in celebration of Earth Day, to encourage its customers to use reusable shopping bags. The grocery store says every reusable bag has the potential to save 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.

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