Whole Foods Recognized for Conscious Building, Operational Initiatives

Whole Foods Market’s newest store in the North Atlantic Region, located at Legacy Place in Dedham, Mass., was recognized for its environmentally friendly design, construction, and operations with the Green Building Initiative’s (GBI) Green Globes certification and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill certification.

For the Green Globes certification, the Dedham store was evaluated in six categories, including energy, water, resources, emissions, indoor environment and environmental management systems, and received a three out of four “Green Globes” rating. The EPA’s GreenChill certification program promotes advanced technologies, strategies, and practices that reduce refrigerant charges and emissions of ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases.

“With the combined power generated from our fuel cell and solar panels, the Dedham store is essentially able to generate almost 100 percent of its power needs on-site with clean energy resources,” said Kathy Loftus, global leader of sustainable engineering, maintenance, and energy for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “We are the first supermarket to use fuel cell technology in the state.”

By generating most of its power on-site with a fuel cell, Whole Foods’ Dedham store will prevent the release of more than 764 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually, the equivalent of planting more than 175 acres of trees and removing over 90 cars from the road, according to the natural foods grocer. The peak power generated from the photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system is enough to meet the store’s entire lighting power needs.

To achieve a Green Globes rating, Whole Foods used Green Globes’ online and interactive program to monitor the environmentally friendly building upgrades. A GBI-authorized third-party building science expert was engaged to review the building documents, conduct an on-site inspection and assess an official Green Globes rating.

Specific key features that contributed to the awards include:

Fuel Cell: Using a 400-kilowatt fuel cell from South Windsor, Conn.-based UTC Power, the store is able to generate nearly 90 percent of its power needs and all of its hot water needs on-site. The fuel cell uses an electrochemical process that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat and water. In traditional power plants, more than half the energy produced goes up the stack as waste heat, but this system turns potential waste heat into usable energy by capturing the exhaust for cooling and heating. This harnessed exhaust heat will provide heat and hot water year-round and help cool the store’s refrigerated cases in the summer. Because the fuel cell operates without combustion, it’s virtually pollution-free.

Solar Power: The Dedham store houses an 80-kilowatt rooftop solar installation that’s made up of 460 panels, which is owned and operated by Beltsville, Md.-based SunEdison. The system is projected to produce about 100,000 kilowatt-hours during the first year of operation.

Secondary Refrigeration: By using secondary fluids in the store’s refrigeration system, the amount of potential ozone-depleting gases is minimized. The refrigeration system’s rejected heat is reclaimed and used to heat water, reducing consumption of natural gas and reducing the total charge of refrigerants by 75 percent.

Waste Reduction: Whole Foods recycles, composts and reuses 80 percent of its waste, and offers customers in-store recycling for many common household items such as batteries, cell phones, printer cartridges and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Additional design and construction elements that helped earn a “3” Green Globe rating include:

--75 percent of construction waste diverted from landfill
--25 percent reduction in interior lighting power density with automated lighting controls
--Day-lighting control at skylights and motion-sensitive lighting sensors
--Zero-VOC emissions paint
--Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood and offering 100 percent recycled paper bags

“At Whole Foods Market, we are always looking for innovative ways to improve our green operations and to explore the newest renewable energy technologies and recycling initiatives,” said Lee Kane, “eco-czar” for Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic Region. “Our green mission is something that we are committed to on a global level as well as the store level through ‘green teams’ that are led by Team Members who are passionate about the environment.”

Whole Foods operates more than 275 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
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