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Whole Foods' Brooklyn Flagship Store to Use 60% Less Energy Than Typical U.S. Grocery

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced the completion of Whole Foods Market’s flagship Brooklyn store, which it is heralding as a model of energy efficiency and the company’s commitment to protecting the environment. The 56,000-square-foot supermarket was constructed on a former brownfield site restored for the purpose by Whole Foods.

Whole Foods worked with NYSERDA to ensure energy-efficient design and construction, and to support a combined heat and power (CHP) system and a solar energy system as part of NY-Sun, the governor’s initiative to significantly increase the amount of clean, renewable solar energy in the state. The CHP system ties to his call for increased distributed generation to strengthen the energy infrastructure and boost resiliency.

“In partnering with NYSERDA and following our core value for practicing and advancing environmental stewardship, we’re proud to have designed one of America’s most forward-thinking and sustainably built retail establishments,” said Tristam Coffin, LEED AP, Green Mission Team at Whole Foods Market. “Built with reclaimed materials, state-of-the-art refrigeration and on-site generation technologies, this new store at Third & 3rd is estimated to be approximately 60% more energy efficient than your average grocery store.”

Other features of Whole Foods Market Third & 3rd include:

  • A 157-kW CHP system that provides simultaneous heating and chilled water year-round and is designed to power the store in the event of a utility grid failure. The system captures the electricity production’s exhaust heat that would otherwise be wasted and uses it to operate an absorption chiller machine, thus providing free cooling. Captured waste heat is also used to provide free heating for occupied spaces and domestic hot water in lieu of burning natural gas in boilers.
  • High-efficiency, zero-ozone-depleting commercial refrigeration systems
  • A raised, 324-kW solar array that covers much of the parking lot and will offset 380,400 kWh of electricity use from the grid, approximately 29 percent of the building’s electricity
  • Off-grid, self-generated LED parking lot lighting and self-generating car-charging stations via wind and solar power. The charging stations complement Governor Cuomo’s Charge NY Program, which calls for establishment of 3,000 public and workplace charging stations by 2018 to promote the growth of electric vehicle ownership.
  • An extensive storm water management plan and a large water reuse system
  • A 20,000-square-foot, rooftop greenhouse that will grow and supply produce to the store and a landscaped public walking path along the Gowanus Canal and 4th Street Basin, which will be run by New York’s Gotham Greens.

Whole Foods created more than 100 products exclusively for this store opening, including with vendors within a two-block radius of the store. The property was remediated under the DEC Brownfield Cleanup Program in 2010, prior to construction.

Whole Foods Market has a total of 5,000 employees at its 14 stores in New York State, including 425 at the new Brooklyn location. Additional stores are planned for New York City’s Upper East Side, Harlem and Williamsburg neighborhoods, as well as a site in Albany. The company has been an active participant in Governor Cuomo’s Small Business Solution Centers program, which partnered with this store to promote local hiring of Brooklyn residents.

"This is an example of how a true partnership between government and the private sector can work to bring great jobs to New Yorkers," said State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera. "These jobs will help make the Gowanus neighborhood stronger and Whole Foods' use of NYSERDA's incentives helps the environment as a whole. I encourage all businesses to learn more about the great things state government, under Governor Cuomo's leadership, can do for them."

While hopefully helping to lead the charge for commercial energy-efficiency in the U.S., Whole Foods Market Third & 3rd has big British shoes to fill, as UK grocers John Lewis and Sainsbury’s have been taking turns one-upping each other in the last year: Sainsbury’s opened two “triple zero” stores, which produce zero carbon emissions, send zero waste to landfill and are water-neutral; while the John Lewis Partnership announced last month that over 380 of its Waitrose and John Lewis stores will be powered by 100 percent renewables by 2015.


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