MONTREAL -- A Giant Eagle store in Brunswick, Ohio, recognized for energy and environmental design by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), has achieved 10.5% greater energy savings than a typical store in the chain while becoming the highest-volume store in its division.
The Brunswick store, which opened in June 2004, became the first supermarket to be deemed a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building by USGBC last December.
USGBC, a Washington-based non-profit coalition of building industry and government organizations, has granted LEED status to 285 buildings since launching the program in 2000, said Taryn Holowka, USGBC spokeswoman.
While acknowledging that Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, had expected a greater energy savings boost than 10.5% at the store, Cliff Timko, energy manager, Giant Eagle, said it has generated strong sales and a positive customer reaction. "Whenever we open a new store, our projected volume is pretty optimistic. We actually exceeded that by 20% and that's unheard of." Moreover, in a survey of customers, 90% said "it's important to shop in a green store," he said.
Timko described Giant Eagle's LEED project at the Food Marketing Institute's Energy and Technical Services Conference here Sept. 18-21.
Last week, Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, announced that one of its stores in Sarasota, Fla., became the second supermarket to achieve LEED recognition.
Giant Eagle, along with other food retailers, has been recognized for energy efficiency by the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program. The LEED recognition includes energy usage as well as many other environmental factors.
Giant Eagle, which supports 138 corporate and 81 independently owned supermarkets, "already achieved Energy Star success in 80% of stores," Timko said. "The next step was to see if we could create a LEED store. The benefits are reduced energy and operating costs, a better atmosphere for our customers and employees, and reduced impact on the overall environment."
LEED certification is based upon a points system assessing a building in the following categories: innovation and design process, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.
Giant Eagle's plan was to include as many low-cost and no-cost "green" building features and practices as necessary to land LEED certification, Timko said. Altogether the chain earned 31 points and achieved the "certified" LEED status. The chain was two points short of the next certification level, silver, which was attained by the Whole Foods store. Higher levels include gold and platinum.
Timko said Giant Eagle didn't deviate dramatically with the Brunswick store. "No major changes were made to its floor plan or basic equipment selection to accommodate LEED," he said. "If you're expecting to see some exotic green features, this isn't the building. We did add day lighting to this store, but that's the only visible difference" from traditional Giant Eagle stores.
In the innovation and design process category, Giant Eagle gained credit for the store's use of superheated discharge gas from its refrigeration compressors to provide about 935,000 gallons of hot water per year.
The Brunswick, Ohio, store also earned credits for its recycling efforts. It annually recycles more than 365 tons of cardboard and three tons of plastic bags collected from its customers. The store credit customers a nickel a bag for returned shopping bags.
Giant Eagle's education plan also earned it credit. In addition to brochures, informational signage is used throughout the store to educate visitors about the store's green features.
In the sustainable sites category, the retailer earned credit for its light pollution reduction, its storm water management treatment strategy and for roof material that counters the "heat island" effect.
In water efficiency, Giant Eagle earned one credit point because its Brunswick store uses no potable, or drinkable, water for irrigation.
In the energy and atmosphere category, Giant Eagle earned four points because the LEED store achieved 30% savings over the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) energy standard baseline. It also earned an ozone protection credit since only non-ozone-depleting HFC refrigerants are used at the Brunswick store.
Giant Eagle earned an additional credit because 85% of the Brunswick store's power is supplied by wind energy.