SUPERMARKETS GO GREEN
By Jodi Summers
In SoCal, we think we’re so green with Whole Foods and other green grocers, but the Cub Foods in St. Paul, MN, is going for LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council – making Cub Foods the second LEED Gold grocery store in the United States–to do so. (Giant Eagle in Columbus, Ohio is the first.)
The 62,900-square-foot Cub Foods store boasts 44 skylights that will illuminate 75% of regularly occupied spaces, using a solar-powered GPS system that redirects sunlight as needed. LED lights are used exclusively in the parking lot.
“We never intended for this story to be green,” says Lee Ann Jorgenson, a community relations manager of Stillwater, MN-based Cub Foods. But President Brian Huff suggested the possibility and the process took off from there, she noted.
Other techniques used at the store include recycling half the waste from demolished buildings on the site, a water-saving landscape irrigation system, and recycling of building construction materials. But those technologies can be used at many other building types.
Because they sell food and other perishable items, supermarkets have special needs require adaptation to be ‘green’. Cub Foods has received an award from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill Partnership at Gold-Level Certification. The award is given for outstanding use of environmentally friendly refrigeration technology. Even lighting refrigerated cases can be managed.
“Our cases use lights that are triggered by motion,” Jorgenson says. The result for all initiatives is a 35% savings on energy.
Packaging is also another important area for sustainability. Johnson Diversey is producing a highly concentrated sanitizer for sinks that automatically dispenses the proper amount of cleaner while reducing the amount of plastic in the store.
Cub Foods is not alone in pursuing sustainability. Corporate parent Supervalu also is building sustainable stores among its other banners, including testing a natural-gas powered fuel cell for its refrigeration system in a Star Market in Newton, MA. Stop & Shop, too, is building sustainable stores, and Fred Meyer hopes to achieve LEED Silver status for a unit in southeast Portland, OR. If it succeeds, the store would be the first grocer in Oregon and parent Kroger’s first unit to do so.
“There is certainly a great deal of interest in building green stores,” says Jeanne von Zastrow, a senior director overseeing sustainability efforts of the Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, VA. “About two years ago, we saw that our member companies wanted assistance to understand this issue.”
The notoriously tight-margin business must carefully track each expenditure, so FMI has created materials for executives to justify the return on investment of green building.
These include simplified carbon calculators to allow companies to assess their energy usage and emissions over a portfolio.
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