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Saturday, November 13, 2010

A LEED Certified Supermarket

So guess which supermarket chain has a new store which is certified LEED silver? Is it Whole Foods, PCC, Trader Joe's (not that they aren't perfectly fine establishments)?
 Actually no.

It's the Pinehurst Safeway Store, 
celebrating it's Grand Opening this week! 

The store was torn down last year and the Pinehurst neighborhood had been through an extensive public process, in which citizens expressed a strong interest in sustainability and requested a LEED certified design

Well Safeway has followed through in a big way. 

The store is located at 125th and 15th NE, and is reconfigured facing North. It features many of the usual features of a Safeway store including, deli, bakery, meat counter, etc.  

But, it's easy to see as soon as you walk across the parking lot, that this is something quite extraordinary for a large supermarket chain. The entire parking lot features "permeable concrete" pavement. This means that the stormwater runoff is "infiltrated' into the ground. 
This design is meant to comply with new water quality requirements that have come into effect in the State, due to Department of Ecology standards.  There are also bioswales to help direct the runoff while infiltating. These techniques are known as LID (Low Impact Developmment) design.

But that's not all. Safeway has provided some brochures which proclaim their proud status as a LEED "Silver" Store. Apparently it is the FIRST LEED Silver Safeway in WA State!  LEED stands for Leadership in Environment and Energy Design. According to NRDC (Natural Recources Defense Council) -
In the United States and in a number of other countries around the world, LEED certification is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability. Achieving LEED certification is the best way for you to demonstrate that your building project is truly "green." 
Other features of the LEED certified store include: 

• LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lighting exterior 
• More than 75% of debris from store demolition and construction was recycled and kept out of landfills
• No CFC Refrigerants - zero ozone depletion refrigerant
• "Heat Island" reduction - White "TPO" Roofing membrane and 100% pervious concrete reduces heat buildup
• Low VOC Materials were used for store adhesives, paints, finishes and flooring.
• Zero Energy Frozen Food Doors
• Energy Star Rated Equipment
• Energy Efficient Lighting, Coils and Fans
• Green Power- Safeway is one of the largest retail purchasers of renewable energy in the US
• Recycling and Waste Stream Reduction 
And much more! 

An article from bNet "Money Watch" by Mike Duff tells the story of Safeways efforts in the green odyssey. It also tells how for a retailer (in the immortal words of Kermit the Frog) "it's not (always) easy being green" and maybe the price wars that are ever present in our 
Walmart-oriented economy, put great pressure on a corporation, in order to compete.
Safeway certainly can feel good about environmental efforts thatboost employee morale and address customer concerns. Still the supermarket operator has broader strategic considerations to weigh, hence the problem. The company has gotten a big boost from the conversion of its traditional supermarkets into what it calls Lifestyle stores, which include more gourmet and trend-oriented food and consumables. Safeway enjoyed sales and earnings advances as it has opened new and remodeled stores under the format, only now it is getting close to Lifestyle saturation. Sometime over the next few years, the chain will be fully converted, just in time for the initial Lifestyle stores to begin suffering a fall off as their refurbishment fades and jaded shoppers begin wondering if they should focus on getting better prices elsewhere.

So, overall it was very impressive first visit today on their Grand Opening weekend. There were lots of free samples and very friendly staff, who were clearly very proud of their new store.  I had fun taking advantage of all the yummy samples such as, a "havarti and turkey panini sandwich", wonderful mashed potatoes, roast chicken and gravy, "balsamic spread", grilled sirloin bites, Cuban pineapple (who knew we are now importing pineapples from Cuba!).

However, I must say that they can still improve. As I went to the check out, the checker automatically put my stuff in a single use plastic bag, before I could whip out my "chico bag" which I always have attached to my purse. So, I had to say "Please take the stuff out of the plastic bag and reuse it". The checker was very nice of course and complied with my request.

But, I have to say, Safeway should be congratulated and rewarded with our business and hopefully they will replicate this model in other new stores if the consumers demand it.

Home Run Safeway!  

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