Just prior to our new store in Paramus, New Jersey opening its doors, 1,300 interested customers took a sneak peak at what this new Whole Foods Market would be offering. In addition to being introduced to the store's extensive wine selection, Shish and Panini station, and a wide variety of our distinct and valued vendors, they were also given a quick overview of what this store was doing to reduce its environmental footprint. Certainly a quick two minute presentation on only a couple of the store's green items didn't do the region's newest and greenest store justice. Let's fix that right now! Here are just a few of the eco-friendly items that those 1,300 customers - and the thousands more that came after them - did not see and hear about.
As you walk through the front door into our produce department, large south-facing windows light up a display of Whole Trade™
flowers pouring natural light onto the produce sales floor and out over the customer service area. The stores south-facing orientation not only allows us to better utilize natural light, reducing the use of artificial light, but also helps maximize the store's heating and cooling capacity. At night when the sun goes down, the store closes and our customers and the majority of our team members go home, our light loads are cut by more than 50% - reducing our energy use and the emissions inherent to burning energy.
To further reduce the store's energy use and our greenhouse gas emissions, all of our open refrigeration cases have night shades that act as a thermal barrier, which maintains the coolers optimal temperatures thereby preserving our products and, in turn, making for less waste while also significantly reducing the energy used by the refrigerators' compressors. By using night shades, energy savings can be as high as 50%. The store is also reducing its HVAC set back temperature requirements. In addition to these overnight energy saving strategies, we are also recovering the waste heat from the refrigeration systems and using it to preheat the store's hot water, storing the preheated water in thermal tanks reducing our use of an already very efficient boiler system.
Enough about what happens at night and behind the scenes; let's hit the sales floor again. We also built and furnished the store with recovered and recycled materials, but let me tell you, you would never know it because these items are some of the more beautiful features of the store. Our bathroom countertops manufactured locally by IceStone, a Gold Certified Cradle to Cradle Company, are made from 100% recycled glass and all VOC-free cement- similar to the paints we used in the store (low VOC content). Above all of our refrigeration cases and in several of the store's décor items is a unique looking board. This board isn't made from wood, though. It is called Kirei board and it's manufactured from reclaimed sorghum straw and no-added-formaldehyde adhesive.
As you continue your walk through the store exploring our vast selection of local, organic and natural products - don't forget the entire isle of eco-friendly wines - take note that you aren't just walking on regular old cement. The cement we used has a high fly ash content. Fly ash is a coal combustion byproduct used to supplement Portland Lime in our concrete mix helping to preserve natural mineral resources and the energy used to extract it.
Once you have filled your cart or grabbed your lunch, have a seat at our recovered river wood café tables and chairs. These tables and chairs didn't require the cutting of any trees, not in the last 200 to 500 hundred years at least. They are constructed with recovered old growth heart pine salvaged from lost logs preserved in the river beds near southern sawmills. When you have finished dining be sure to recycle your bottles and cans and compost your food and paper products just as we do in the back of the house to ensure we are sending minimal amounts of garbage to landfills and incinerators.
Speaking of recycling, this store recycled more than 70% of all the construction waste produced during its building. Furthermore, we want to continue on the path to sustainability so if you have any old batteries, cell phones, plastic bags, or #5 plastics (all your yogurt containers not often accepted at curb side recycling), bring them to us we will be happy to recycle these items for you!
Thanks to everyone from our architects to our construction crews to our team members and you, our valued customers, for helping us be green!
Tristam Coffin started with Whole Foods Market about 9 years ago as a Cashier in the Bellingham, Massachusetts store. Having always had a passion for food and protecting the environment he worked for Customer Service and Prepared Foods in the North Atlantic Region while also earning a degree in Environmental Studies. After some time away from WFM working in various environmental fields he is back as the Green Mission Specialist in the Northeast Region.