AUSTIN, Texas - Whole Foods Market announced it is strengthening efforts to reduce energy consumption at all stores by 25 percent per square foot by 2015. The Company has also committed to wind energy, more on-site renewable energy, and aggressive green building, advanced refrigeration and transportation practices, which will result in significant emissions reductions.
“With this combination of strategies, along with the implementation of energy and emissions tracking systems, we intend to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent per square foot by 2015,” said Kathy Loftus, Whole Foods Market global leader of sustainable engineering and energy management. “Saving energy costs less than buying it, so we are reducing our appetite for energy from both traditional and renewable sources.”
Energy Reductions in Existing and New Stores
Existing stores are using less energy through Whole Foods Market’s comprehensive retrofit and upgrade projects, which include smarter refrigeration, state-of-the-art lighting and controls systems, and advanced efficiency motors for HVAC and refrigeration.
“After initial metering results led us to estimate that energy reductions may be close to 20 million kWh over the past two years, we were motivated to earmark $10 million over the next 18 months for additional retrofit and upgrade projects,” said Loftus.
In new stores, energy efficient design, alternative refrigerants, and advanced systems dramatically reduce the amount of energy and traditional refrigerant gas being employed. Several stores have been awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill certification, which recognizes eco-friendly commercial refrigeration systems. Early examples of reduced energy are apparent in several new stores: Colorado’s SouthGlenn store which, after only a few months, is using roughly 35 percent less energy than two older stores nearby; yet, this location is only about 15 percent smaller than the other stores and California’s Santa Barbara store uses 45 percent less energy than a nearby store of comparable size.
As part of a Retail Energy Alliance partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), the Company was awarded resources to design new stores and retrofit older ones. The program pairs Whole Foods Market with National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) to create, test and validate design concepts that will move the industry toward net-zero energy commercial buildings.
“NREL is working with Whole Foods Market through a DOE Commercial Buildings Partnership project to help design and build a new store that is 50 percent more efficient than current energy efficiency codes and retrofit an existing store to be 30 percent more efficient than current energy efficiency codes,” said Michael Deru, NREL Senior Engineer. ”The goal is to transfer the knowledge gained from these projects to help transform the designs across all buildings to help Whole Foods Market and other retailers transform how buildings are built and operated.”
This is the fourth year that Whole Foods Market will offset 100 percent of its electricity use at its North American locations with wind energy credits. This year, the Company will make another industry-leading purchase of more than 810,000 mWh through 3Degrees, a San Francisco-based provider of renewable energy credits, adding clean, renewable energy to U.S. power grids.
More On-site Renewable Energy
Whole Foods Market has a healthy mix of locations that are either hosting or generating on-site renewable energy. There are currently 15 locations supplementing traditional power with solar power with more in development. The Company’s San Jose store recently announced it would host a fuel cell, making it the first supermarket in California that will generate enough electricity on site to meet 90 percent of its needs. This store joins the Glastonbury, Conn., and Dedham, Mass., stores, which already have on-site hydrogen fuel cells, and more are planned for future locations. Additionally, the company is testing the feasibility of additional on-site clean energy projects such as wind turbines and waste-to-energy.
Aggressive Green Building Practices
Whole Foods Market has close to 30 stores that are either LEED or Green Globes certified, registered or in development. The latest store to announce LEED Gold certification – and the first Manhattan supermarket to earn the distinction – is the Upper West Side store.
Fuel for Product Transportation
Through improved logistical planning, Whole Foods Market distribution centers have reduced truck deliveries by more than two million miles and have reduced fuel consumption by more than 360,000 gallons annually. One-third of the Company’s distribution center truck fleets are using biodiesel. The Atlanta-area distribution center, which uses the South Region’s spent cooking oil to supply fuel for its trucks, eliminates more than 250,000 pounds of emissions per year.
The Company is tracking energy and emissions from energy usage, refrigerant gas leakage, and fuel usage for the internal truck fleet using a baseline year of 2008.