Earth Day is a big deal around here. So much so, in fact, that we celebrate the entire month of April as Earth Month! Every Earth Day, Whole Foods Market makes specific commitments to do more as a company to help our planet. One year we announced a 100% offset of our energy use with wind energy credits; another year we eliminated plastic grocery bags. These are strong commitments that continue long past Earth Day.
And with each year, our team members push harder to come up with more, better and greener ways of doing things. They don’t shy away from the hard stuff, knowing that we, as a company, are committed to doing what’s right for the Earth. So, without further ado, here’s our 2010 Earth Day commitment:
Whole Foods Market commits to reduce our energy consumption by 25% per square foot by 2015.
How are we going to do it? Lots of specifics below, but putting our stores on a healthy consumption plan, replacing older equipment with more efficient alternatives and ensuring all stores have the tools necessary to optimize operation of equipment will make the biggest dent in the energy reduction goal. This, combined with our aggressive green building, innovative refrigeration practices, advanced transportation practices, more on-site renewable energy and continued wind energy credits will all play a part in significant emissions reductions.
Bottom line: Saving energy costs less than buying it, so we are reducing our appetite for energy from both traditional and renewable sources. We are implementing energy and emissions tracking systems to help us track our progress and identify areas for improvement. We are really excited about the changes this commitment will bring about.
Here are some of the details of what we are doing now and how we are going to move it forward.
Energy Reductions in Existing and New Stores
Some of our existing stores are using less energy through our 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.
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% less energy than two older, slightly larger nearby stores and California’s Santa Barbara store uses 45% less energy than a nearby store of comparable size.
As part of a Retail Energy Alliance partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE), we were awarded resources to design new stores and retrofit older ones. The program pairs us with National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) to create, test and validate design concepts that will move the industry toward net-zero energy commercial buildings.
This is the fourth year that we will offset 100% of our electricity use at our North American locations with wind energy credits. This year, we will purchase 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
We have 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. Our San Jose store recently announced they would host a fuel cell, making it the first supermarket in California that will generate enough electricity on site to meet 90% of its needs. This store joins our Glastonbury, CT and Dedham, MA 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
We have almost 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 our Upper West Side store.
Fuel for Product Transportation
Through improved logistical planning, our 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 our truck fleets are using biodiesel. The Atlanta-area distribution center, which uses our South Region’s spent cooking oil to supply fuel for its trucks, eliminates more than 250,000 pounds of emissions per year.
Happy Earth Day!