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LEEDing The Way.

Byline: James Dudlicek

This year's greenest grocers continue to push the sustainability envelope above and beyond minimums for certified status.

Sustainability has gone from buzzword to standard operating procedure, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Progressive Grocer's latest crop of Green Grocer Award winners. It goes without saying these days that grocers will pursue the highest possible level of LEED certification with any new construction, and GreenChill status continues to make inroads in the industry.

These are good enough reasons alone to join the ranks of PG's Green Grocers. But grocers continue to seek innovative ways to reduce waste and, ultimately, improve their bottom lines.

For example, Supervalu -- one of our Hall of Fame inductees this year -- has launched composting programs in California and Pennsylvania, fuel cell power generation at its Star Market in Massachusetts, and rooftop solar panels at stores on both coasts. Seattle's PCC Natural Markets, another of our 2011 Hall of Famers, uses sustainable materials like bamboo and quartz for interior furnishings, and has a store with a rain-harvesting system.

Mariano's Fresh Market, Roundy's budding Chicago-area chain, has "smart glass" windows that minimize heat transfer, and skylights are a popular new feature at many supermarkets. Safeway employs bio-swale filtration to filter storm water. Stater Bros, has received state recognition for its chainwide composting program.

As we honor this year's recipients, we're already looking forward to the green innovations next year will bring.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Rosemead, Calif.

This Southern California store recently installed Kysor/Warren's new carbon dioxide refrigeration system, which is expected to reduce the impact of the store's refrigeration on the ozone layer by nearly 70 percent vs. conventional industry standards. By using a natural refrigerant in conjunction with R-134a, the system lowers the global warming potential by approximately 50 percent, creating a significantly less harmful impact on the environment.

Having earned Silver certification from the EPA's GreenChill Partnership, the newly opened Rosemead, Calif., Fresh & Easy is just one of four locations that have picked up GreenChill designations this year, including a Gold-certified store in Oceanside, Calif.

Bowing its first GreenChill-certified store in September 2010, El Segundo, Calif.-based Fresh & Easy, a division of U.K. grocer Tesco, now has a total of eight stores certified through the program -- the most of any grocer in the country.

"We've worked hard to be thoughtful in the impact we have on the environment, and we're excited to continue to innovate in this area," says Fresh & Easy CEO Tim Mason. "On average, our stores use 30 percent less energy than a typical supermarket, which not only helps the environment, but also keeps our prices low so our customers can continue to save money."

Green Designations

LEED

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all of the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

GreenChill

GreenChill is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency partnership with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the environment. The EPA awards GreenChill certification to stores that meet tough benchmarks for cutting emissions. GreenChill works to help food retailers transition to environmentally friendlier refrigerants, lower refrigerant charge sizes and eliminate leaks, and adopt green refrigeration technologies, strategies and practices.

Harris Teeter, Charlotte, N.C.

Opened in June 2010, Harris Teeter's Charlotte, N.C., store was built with additional energy and environmental design components in mind that enabled it to apply for LEED certification. More than 20 percent of all building materials were manufactured regionally (within 500 miles of the store), 95 percent of all construction waste was recycled and 50 percent of all wood used during construction came from certified sustainable forests. Freezer cases were designed with LED lighting, and water-saving devices were installed in all of the water fixtures. The Matthews, N.C.-based retailer's store is 18 percent more energy-efficient than the industry average and uses 65 percent less refrigerant load. It also features a recycling center in the lobby.

H-E-B, Missouri City, Texas

The San Antonio-based retailer's Sienna Market was awarded LEED certification last June, making it the second H-E-B in the greater Houston area to achieve certification from the nation's program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. While H-E-B has incorporated increasingly sophisticated green building elements into its diverse store base for many years, the regional retailer's Sienna Market was designed to achieve 21 percent lower energy use than what LEED considers typical for supermarkets.

Hy-Vee, Madison, Wis.

At its first Wisconsin store, Hy-Vee struck gold in Madison -- literally -- with its first-ever LEED Gold certification. Among the dynamic features that helped the West Des Moines, Iowa-based retailer earn the Gold standard: abundant use of recycled or locally sourced materials in the store's construction, water quality equipment installed onsite to remove pollutants from rainwater before it enters public sewers, native grasses and perennial plantings used in landscaping, and energy cost savings in excess of 30 percent through the use of high-energy heating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.

Other LEED gold features include low-E windows, a highly reflective roof, large windows and skylights providing natural light, and motion sensors activating LED lights in refrigerated cases; low-flow, motion-activated toilets and hand sinks reducing potable water use by 40 percent; no ozone-depleting chemicals used in refrigeration; paint and wall coverings, adhesives, carpeting and d'cor elements with low levels of volatile organic compounds; and a recycling center for store-generated materials.

K-VA-T/Food City, Morristown, Tenn.

Opened Nov. 10, 2010, Food City's Morristown, Tenn., store debuts several impressive new energy-saving concepts: a unique lighting system, featuring 57 skylights and light sensors that automatically dim lighting; new cases with energy-saving doors to help reduce the amount of electricity required to cool them; a re-engineering refrigeration system; open-front cases with night shades; and LED lighting. "We anticipate the lights being off a total of 100 days per year thanks to this new lighting system," says Keith Hudson, fixed asset manager.

Since the store opened, kilowatt usage was down between 72,600 and 84,500 kilowatts, resulting in a savings of between $4,200 and $7,700 for November alone. This energy-saving model is being included in all new store plans, and as many aspects as possible will be incorporated in store remodels and expansions going forward.

Food City's energy committee has implemented a comprehensive new conservation objective, ECO. The chain's Abingdon, Va.-based parent company, K-VA-T Food Stores, set a goal of a 10 percent energy reduction by store across the board during 2010, vs. the previous year. As part of the plan, an energy conservation computer-based training course was developed and required for all Food City associates. The course invited associates to submit their suggestions for conservation within their specific department or store. The plan also included a two-tier rewards program for the stores demonstrating the greatest energy savings. At the conclusion of the yearlong program, the location with the greatest amount of energy savings received a cookout for the entire store, along with a Food City gift card for each associate. The company's overall winner saw a kilowatt reduction of 9.1 percent. Over the previous 12 months, the program resulted in a same-store savings of over 5.1 million kilowatt-hours for the total company.

Mariano's Fresh Market (Roundy's), Arlington Heights, Ill.

Some industry experts have called this 68,000-square-foot store, opened in summer 2010, "the supermarket of the future." It's made entirely of certified renewable forest lumber. The oversized windows are made of "smart glass" that lets in light but not heat. Computer-controlled lights dim during lower-traffic times. Much of the produce sold is locally sourced, and prepared food departments use containers made from recycled materials. Energy usage is monitored from corporate headquarters in Milwaukee.

Price Chopper, Shrewsbury, Mass.

Last November, Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper opened a 64,000-square-foot green store in Shrewsbury, Mass., that has earned Silver-level LEED certification. "We focused our sustainable efforts on making the shopping experience as pleasurable as possible, while reducing our utility consumption and thereby better controlling costs at the consumer level,"says Jerry Golub, president and COO.

Features employed in the new store include precast concrete walls and skylights that are incorporated into the roof to admit natural light. Sensors detect when or if electric lighting is needed to supplement the natural light. Freezers and cases are lit with LED bulbs; glass doors in these departments help keep the cold air in. Unused produce, meat, seafood and deli products past their peak are composted into gray water using patented technology employed by the store's "Bio X" machine.

Publix, Sarasota, Fla.

The 28,000-square-foot store, opened in April 2009, supports the Lakeland, Fla.-based grocer's commitment "to responsibly grow and maintain a successful business without sacrificing its present viability or the planet's future." Certified last June, it is one of the highest-scoring LEED-certified grocery stores in the nation, garnering 40 out of a possible 69 points. Features include LED light fixtures and skylights, low-emitting vehicle parking, low-flow plumbing fixtures, reclaimed water systems, and reflective roof systems.

Safeway

Already a member of PG's Green Grocer Hall of Fame, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway continues to make great strides toward sustainability. In 2009, the grocer opened its first store built to LEED Gold standards in Santa Cruz, Calif, (pictured), which is powered by the combined renewable energy resources of fuel cells, solar and wind. The new technology produces clean, quiet and highly efficient electricity.

More recently, the Pinehurst Safeway market at 12318 15th NE in Seattle, which opened last November, is the greenest store in the grocer's Seattle division and will serve as the prototype for future stores. It was designed to LEED Silver certification standards and features environmentally focused innovations such as energy-efficient refrigeration; recycled and locally procured construction materials; paint, coatings and adhesives that meet strict standards for indoor air quality and low volatile organic compounds; LED lighting; bioswale filtration; and green screens to minimize heat reflected from the building.

Last October, Safeway's Illinois-based Dominick's chain opened a new market at 5233 N. Lincoln Ave. in Chicago, one of the latest in a new wave of energy-saving outlets that Safeway is rolling out nationwide. The company estimates it will save about 20 percent in energy costs at the new Dominick's. Expanses of glass let the energy of the store's interior flow outward to the street, anda sunken bioswale beautifies the north end of the site and filters storm water that drains in from the parking lot. Besides LED lights in the frozen food cases, other eco-friendly features include nontoxic flooring and a decentralized refrigeration system that uses 40 percent less copper tubing than a typical one. The combined impact of the energy-saving measures purportedly will be the equivalent of removing 160 cars from the roads and planting more than 250 acres of trees a year. The store is expected to achieve at least a LEED Silver rating.

Stater Bros., Southern California

This regional independent chain was recognized as a 2010 WRAP (Waste Reduction Awards Program) winner by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) for its chainwide composting efforts and other green initiatives. On Earth Day 2009, San Bernardino, Calif.-based Stater Bros, introduced a "Green Waste" composting program in all 167 of its locations, to turn organic waste into compost that is sold to area farmers. The grocer diverted more than 40 million pounds of waste from landfills in 2010. Stater Bros, has also established an employee Green Team, which reviews, selects and implements business practices that promote the long-term well being of the company, community and environment.

"Stater Bros, believes in doing the right thing for the right reason," says Jack Brown, chairman and CEO. "Protecting our environment is the right thing, and the right reason is so future generations can live in a better world."

Winn-Dixie, Covington, La.

This is the first grocery store in Louisiana to receive EPA's GreenChill certification. The store showcases Jacksonville, Fla.-based Winn-Dixie's latest design concepts, including 21,000 square feet of polished wood flooring, 34,000 square feet of stained concrete flooring, an exposed-beam ceiling and a 24-foot-ta 11 open entranceway highlighted by an outdoor farmers' market featuring fresh produce from local growers.

PG Green Grocer Hall of Fame 2011 Inductees

Supervalu

Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc. has earned a place in our Green Grocer Hall of Fame for its ongoing sustainability efforts at its chains nationwide. Among its recent achievements:

Opened last October, the Jewel-Osco store at 3630 N. Southport Ave. features a planted roof, energy-saving LED lights, recycled construction materials, and water-saving fixtures and faucets. The project will seek LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Southport store is Jewel-Osco's third green outlet in Chicago; the others are LEED certified.

Albertsons stores in Seattle have turned their compactors into compost containers that are filled and removed weekly. Further, two of Albertsons' Santa Barbara, Calif., stores have reached "zero waste" classification in their daily operations. Through a combination of innovative recycling programs, a food donation program and a joint organic composting program with the city of Santa Barbara, the two stores now divert all noncontaminated waste from landfills and incinerators. In total, over 95 percent of all waste products from both stores are recycled, reused or composted -- exceeding the 90 percent threshold commonly recognized as zero waste.

Star Market in Chestnut Hill, Mass., reopened in fall 2009 as a pilot prototype for sustainability, with technologies including a fuel cell for on-site electrical generation and 90 percent reduction in refrigerant use. It was also the first grocery store in the nation to use 100 percent LED lighting.

Select Acme stores in Pennsylvania fill compost totes that are picked up on a daily basis and turned into high-grade soil.

Select Cub Foods stores in Minnesota and Shaw's stores in the Northeast have partnerships with local farmers to use store produce waste for animal feed.

Supervalu has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by the end of 2012, with a baseline year of 2007; reduced its landfill waste by 50 percent in five years; built a "green culture" through education, communication and engagement; and provided green products and services to customers that support them in meeting their personal environmental goals. In addition to LED lighting, Supervalu installed approximately 500 kilowatts of solar power-generating systems on store rooftops in Southern California and the Northeast.

PCC Natural Markets

The commitment of this nine-store Seattle-area chain to build and remodel stores that incorporate environmentally responsible features began in 1999 with the remodel of its Greenlake (Seattle) store classroom. That project emphasized sustainable finishes, furniture and fixtures.

PCC's Fremont (Seattle) market, opened in 2003, introduced a variety of innovations to boost energy efficiency, use recycled materials and improve indoor air quality. Fremont's eco-friendly highlights include energy-efficient lighting, photo-voltaic cells (solar panels), recycled structural steel, non-ozone layer-depleting refrigerant and an elevator that uses biodegradable canola oil rather than standard hydraulic fluid. The store also is equipped with strawboard custom cabinets, worktops manufactured from recycled paper, and Energy Star-rated appliances.

In 2006, PCC opened its Redmond, Wash., location (pictured) -- the first-ever LEED Gold-certified grocery store in the country. Low-toxicity paints and finishes; use of recycled materials, including clay and glass tiles in restrooms and prep areas, made from 50 percent to 100 percent recycled content; natural lighting from 28 skylights, supported by sensor-controlled, full-spectrum lighting; and efficient heating and refrigeration systems are just some of the features that distinguish the Redmond PCC. It's also an example of how simple energy and money-saving strategies can be effective in a grocery store setting, such as interconnecting the hot-water heating and refrigeration systems by the same refrigerant loop so that heat from the refrigeration system, which is typically wasted, can be used instead to warm water needed by the store for dishwashing and other purposes.

Two years later, replication of Redmond PCC's many interior attributes, as well as a rooftop rain-harvesting system and two state-of-the-art rain gardens, has earned the Edmonds, Wash., PCC LEED Platinum certification. The Edmonds PCC was also awarded Salmon-Safe certification in 2010 in recognition of practices that protect local waterways and wildlife, and help restore native salmon and their habitat.

An extensive and highly successful remodel of its Issaquah, Wash., store in 2009, during which several features, including sustainable materials such as bamboo and Silestone (a natural quartz surface), and reused fixtures and cases were incorporated into the 10-year old store, prompted PCC to undertake an even more comprehensive remodel of its 21-year-old West Seattle location in 2010.

PCC employs practices and pursues initiatives that move the co-op, its stakeholders and the environment toward a more sustainable future. The co-op takes a triple-bottom-line approach to monitoring and evaluating its sustainability efforts, using measurements of economic performance, social responsibility efforts, and environmental stewardship and protection practices.

PG Green Grocer Hall of Fame Current Members:

* Delhaize Group

* Giant Eagle

* H.E. Butt Grocery Co.

* The Kroger Co.

* Publix Super Markets Inc.

* Safeway Inc.

* The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co.

* Walmart

* Whole Foods Market

* The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.
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Author:Dudlicek, James
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Mar 1, 2011
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