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With Platinum LEED Store, Hannaford Excels in Town and Country

Hannaford Bros. emergence as the first supermarket chain to win platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the United States Green Building Council for one of its stores, demonstrates a commitment both to industry leadership and to corporate learning.

Obtaining LEED Certification requires at its most basic a demonstrable commitment to reducing pollutant emissions and improving energy efficiency, and that suffices for most companies. Going for advanced certification takes a much larger commitment in time, thought and treasure. Hannaford Bros. decided that going for basic certification, or for silver or gold, wasn't sufficient for its ambitions and, so it made platinum its goal, achieving certification for a store opened on July 25 in Augusta, Maine.

The company's wanted to demonstrate a clear commitment to environmentally friendly operations and at the same time educate itself so it would develop experience that could generate ideas applicable through its entire store system.

"We decided to push ourselves to the limit," Rande Gray, design project manager at Hannaford told Bnet.

Hannaford has a long history of rolling out environmental initiatives in recycling, green sourcing and renewable energy. Of course, being headquartered in Maine, a state closely identified with nature and the outdoors, location provides a degree of motivation, yet, no one can accuse the Hannaford folks of being just another bunch of tree huggers. There has been an element of urban renewal in its platinum store project as well.

LEED certification is based on a point system, with a set number of credits required to get the basic certification and more for the advanced awards. Renovating existing properties to make them more environmentally friendly provides additional points beyond what's offered for building in freshly develop space, so Hannaford, decided to renovate an abandoned Augusta school property. It removed asbestos and essentially rebuilt the entire lot into a supermarket facility, contributing to the community environment as well as the natural.

Other elements that boost the store's green credentials include:

  • A state-of-the-art GreenChill refrigeration system that uses 50 percent less refrigerant gas than systems typically in use today, and one that can recycle condenser heat to warm the building.
  • The installation of enclosed freezer and refrigerated cases â€" those with doors rather than open fronts â€" throughout the store to save energy and create a more comfortable shopping atmosphere.
  • Development of two geothermal wells, tapping a source 750 feet underground, to help regulate the building's temperature.
  • A glass "pop-up" structure on the roof that, with glass transoms and solar tubes, helps light the sales floor and work areas in conjunction with an automated energy control system that can step up and down the store's artificial illumination in increments from 100 percent to 75 percent to 50 percent to 25 percent and back again depending upon requirements.
Gray said the store will use about half as much energy as supermarkets of similar configuration and size. The Augusta store comes in at about 49,000 square feet. Naturally enough, a environmentally attractive store wants to offer products that might satisfy environmentally conscious customers, so it offers about 3,500 natural and organic items and hundreds of local products.

Greenwashing is an accusation that hangs over corporate environmental programs, and one that can compromise an investment even in well-intentioned projects. Hannaford has not only negated that concern with its LEED platinum certified store, the company has given itself an education that will help it apply real experience to all future environmental projects assuring they will be effective and difficult to criticize. Gray said more of those such projects should be emerging from Hannaford given that it has four separate offices looking at environmental issues from different perspectives. "In the engineering department, we have design services, construction, energy and facility services, and social responsibility that all work on programs related to the environment," she noted.

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