Urban Philly Independent Store Goes 'Triple Green'

PHILADELPHIA -- As sustainable business practices gain ground among retailers, even the smallest of stores are making changes to help the environment -- and ultimately save costs. One such retailer is Romano's Grocery, a 1,200-square-foot corner store in Philadelphia's Juanita Park section, that said it will be "triple green" when it reopens on Nov. 16.

By using green building practices, the urban store's owner, Juan Romano, said he's making it possible to stock more fruits and vegetables, and expand his business. Energy-efficient lighting, refrigerators that are 25 percent to 35 percent more efficient than standard ones, and a ductless HVAC system will minimize the additional energy costs associated with the refrigeration needed to stock fruits and vegetables.

"My vision was that this store could serve the neighborhood's need for a broader range of groceries," said Romano in a statement. "I had to make the numbers work financially. Using energy efficient equipment and other 'green' building techniques makes stocking fresh fruits and vegetables possible."

The renovation of Romano's Grocery brings together two initiatives supported by Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development, both managed by The Reinvestment Fund (TRF). The PA Fresh Food Financing Initiative supports food retail in underserved communities and the Minority Food Retailer Program supported the growth of minority retail opportunities. Romano's Grocery also benefited from The Food Trust's work, supported by TRF's Sustainable Development Fund and the William Penn Foundation, to develop energy design and equipment best practices for supermarkets and food stores.

The project is part of the Food Trust's Green Supermarket Initiative, created to develop models and resources for communities that want to use green building techniques to cut down on high energy costs, which can prevent small stores from carrying fresh, perishable produce. A toolkit for building green grocery stores and supermarkets -- highlighting Romano's as a first case in point -- will be available in the spring of 2008 from both www.thefoodtrust.org and www.trfund.com.
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