QUINCY, Mass. — Stop & Shop here last month used the new “Energy Star” status of a store in Southbury, Conn. — the chain's first outlet to be given that distinction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — as a platform to highlight its chainwide efforts to cut energy costs and contribute to a better environment.
Stop & Shop, a division of Ahold USA that is run in tandem with sister company Giant Food, Landover, Md., held a press conference in the Southbury store Aug. 21 to announce its Energy Star certification. The designation is inscribed on a blue-and-bronze plaque posted at the entrance to the store.
On hand at the press conference were several Stop & Shop executives, as well as Connecticut state politicians, representatives of U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Chris Murphy, and EPA officials. Andrew Marone, field outreach coordinator for Murphy, presented Stop & Shop with a Congressional Citation recognizing its and Giant Food's achievements in energy conservation.
The EPA bestows the Energy Star label on buildings that use about 35% less energy than average. Chains with multiple Energy Star stores include Food Lion and Giant Eagle.
Stop & Shop also announced at the event that both itself and Giant Food are “completing the final approval steps to be designated as an Energy Star Leader,” said Ruth Kinzey, senior vice president of communication and public affairs for Stop & Shop and Giant Food. That designation would reflect superior energy performance across the Stop & Shop and Giant Food store base, 368 and 177 stores, respectively.
Kinzey told SN that Stop & Shop operates 94 stores (including a prototype in Foxboro, Mass., opened in 2001) with energy-saving features similar to those at the Southbury store, but that the chain is not currently seeking Energy Star status for other individual stores. “It's more important to us as an organization,” she said, to be recognized for the company's “portfolio” of energy-efficient stores.
Stop & Shop is striving to be an environmental role model to others, “whether they may be competitors, other corporations or private businesses, or our shoppers,” added Kinzey, who leads Stop & Shop's corporate social responsibility work and co-chairs its Climate Action Committee.
About 3,200 buildings nationally have been certified with the Energy Star label, said Jean Lupinacci, EPA's director of the Energy Star commercial and industrial branch. “Those buildings annually save $600 million in energy, removing the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of 900,000 cars,” she said.
The EPA requires an engineer to certify that an Energy Star store has met its requirements, and a store must present an analysis of 12 months of its utility bills.
“Sixty percent of American consumers are influenced by the Energy Star label,” said Lupinacci. “Stop & Shop will experience the power of Energy Star.” Saving $1 in energy costs at a supermarket, she added, “is equal to selling $59 in groceries.”
Built in 2005, the Southbury store includes a range of energy-saving technologies that have reduced its electrical load by 28% compared to similar stores built in 2000, Stop & Shop said.
For example, skylights over the sales floor provide natural light during the day and allow a T5 fluorescent lighting system to be dimmed automatically down to 20% of capacity by an energy management system.
Other features include:
Occupancy sensors in back rooms and office areas that turn the lights off when these spaces are unoccupied.
Refrigeration systems that include high-efficiency fan motors, variable-speed compressors, low-energy glass doors and non-ozone-depleting refrigerant.
A reclamation system that uses heat captured from the refrigeration units to heat the sales floor and the water used in restrooms and preparation areas.
A white reflective surface on the roof (thermoplastic polyolefin) that reflects solar radiation and reduces the store's air-conditioning needs in the summer by about 96,000 BTUs.
LED lighting in outside signs that have reduced energy usage by 80% compared to neon lighting.
An energy management system, controlled at corporate headquarters, that monitors lighting, refrigeration, HVAC and other systems to ensure that they are running correctly and to initiate corrective action if they are not. The system dims sales floor lighting by 50% and shuts off perimeter lighting between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
“This is just the beginning,” said Jihad Rizkallah, vice president of design and engineering for Stop & Shop and Giant Food. “We will continue to explore and develop energy-efficient projects. We're committed to more and more conservation.”
Rizkallah said that Stop & Shop's investment in energy-saving technology at the Southbury store would generate a payback in “three to four years.”
According to Kenneth Welter, Stop & Shop's manager of refrigeration systems, the Southbury store's refrigeration systems use R-404A, a non-ozone-depleting HFC refrigerant. About 70 Stop & Shop stores run their refrigeration with R-404A, he added.
Stop & Shop is retrofitting its refrigeration systems, replacing R-22, an ozone-depleting HCFC refrigerant, with R-404A in most cases, typically during remodels. As of 2010, no production or importing of R-22 will be allowed for new refrigeration equipment.
At a new store in Kennebunk, Maine, Stop & Shop has partnered with Sterling Planet, Norcross, Ga., to purchase renewable energy (produced via wind, solar, hydro and other non-fossil sources) that matches 100% of the electricity used at the store. Rizkallah said Stop & Shop, which made its purchase via Sterling Planet's Renewable Energy Certificates, is paying a “premium” for this renewable energy.
Sterling Planet will arrange for 2.7 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy to be added annually to the nation's electrical grid, taking the place of what would otherwise have been produced via standard fossil-fuel plants. The Kennebunk store will thereby be responsible for eliminating 4 million pounds of carbon dioxide creation annually.
“By choosing clean, renewable energy, Stop & Shop is demonstrating that it's possible to consume this energy while supporting clean energy technologies and domestic electricity, offsetting fossil fuel demand, and being a good corporate citizen,” said Paul Grenier, Stop & Shop's manager of energy budgeting and procurement, in a statement.
In another program, Stop & Shop reduces diesel fuel usage via truck idling systems that turn off parked vehicle engines left running too long.
Stop & Shop is also involved in several recycling initiatives. For example, last year the chain recycled more than 1,500 tons of plastics consisting of plastic shopping bags collected in store bins and store-generated shrink/pallet wrap. The plastics are collected at stores and backhauled to a distribution center, serving a growing demand for recycled plastic. The company's recycling vendor uses the plastics to make composite decking (manmade lumber).
Stop & Shop also encourages its customers to purchase and use heavy-duty reusable grocery bags instead of disposable paper or plastic bags. The reusable bags, which retail for 99 cents apiece, can work in tandem with the chain's portable self-scanning device (part of the Shopping Buddy shopping cart system), available in 16 stores.