Reducing environmental footprint makes both good stewardship
and economic sense.
“Sustainability is actually the flagship of efficiency because inefficiency is not sustainable,” Rojas says. “As we are diverting all of this
produce from our waste, we are also reducing our trash costs. We are
able to right-size our stores because we are able to dramatically reduce
To reduce energy consumption, Sprouts has instituted a Save Green
program. “Save Green is a series of best practices or guidelines for our
stores to follow. They are running much more efficiently with regards
to water and energy conservation,” Rojas says.
Open meat and dairy cases have been fitted with night curtains to
reduce overnight energy consumption, and early morning crews now
only turn on a portion of the lights before the store opens for business.
It takes money to save energy.
That is a big drawback for many
retailers closely watching their bottom
lines, but teaming with an investment
firm can help.
“The biggest hurdle in energy effi-
ciency is capital,” says Steven Wagner,
vice president with LCTA Group
(Leading Center for Technology
Advancement), a San Antonio-based
investment company specializing in
energy-efficiency upgrades, including
lighting, controls, motors and other in-store functions. “Our whole
premise is really helping to increase the adoption rate of efficient
LCTA bridges the gap between suppliers, end users, building
owners and tenants by providing the capital to make energy
savings happen, Wagner says. The firm not only works with retailers,
but also manufacturers, distribution centers, hospitals and other
“We don’t charge the retailer for anything,” Wagner says. “We
are a pure investment firm. We pay for 100 percent of the assess-
ment, validation, all the assets, and it is non-debt. We take all the
risks by assessing, validating and implementing it.”
If LCTA determined that 100,000 kilowatt hours of energy at a
store could be saved, for example, the firm would invest all the
resources and capital in making that happen and then get paid
on a percentage of the savings. “We guarantee the end users a
percentage of the savings at the prevailing energy rate. From a
financial perspective, because it doesn’t hit their books and bal-
ance sheet and because it is 100 percent validated, the retailer
does not carry the risk, and we get the reward if we are successful.”
For more information, visit lctagroup.com.
“With those night curtains we’ve already seen a reduction in energy
costs of five percent or more of our total energy costs. That is huge
when you are talking about 250 stores chain-wide,” Rojas says.
Sprouts is also in discussion with leading solar and battery storage
manufacturers to have such systems installed in select stores, Rojas says.
Water consumption has been decreased by installing low-flow nozzles
in the deli department, along with low-flow toilets in the restrooms.
“All of our new stores are built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design) standards,” Rojas says. “We don’t go through
the certification process with all of them, but all of them are certifiable
LEED. They are basically green buildings.”
One of the biggest energy consumption costs—and contributor to carbon footprint—in the supermarket comes from the frozen
and refrigerated cases. They can account for 50 percent or more of a
supermarket’s electricity bill. Skogen’s Festival Foods, an operator of
24 supermarkets across Wisconsin, is turning that around by teaming
with Honeywell, which has installed its Solstice N40 refrigerant in its
new Menasha and Somers stores.
“One of the beauties of our new Solstice N40 refrigerant is that it
is the lowest GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerant,” says
Robert Kebby, global business manager, commercial refrigeration at
Honeywell, based in Morris Plains, N.J. “It was initially designed as
a replacement for 404 and N22 in existing stores, but is also great for
new stores. It is a neat drop-in product for existing refrigerants.”
“By designing our refrigeration systems to work with Solstice N40,
we expect to increase the energy efficiency of our Somers location by
three percent or more when compared to our other Festival Foods
locations,” says Mark Skogen, president and CEO of Festival Foods,
based in De Pere, Wis. “That’s a big win for the environment, and it
will lower our energy costs as well.”
Kebby says Solstice N40 can greatly reduce carbon footprint, and
has already made a big impact. “We have 300,000 metric tons of CO2
savings with this product globally at the moment and it is growing
every day,” he says. “That is like 68,000 passenger cars removed from
the road, or about 750,000 less barrels of oil.”
Manufacturers are also stepping up to the plate to reduce their car-
Portland Roasting Coffee consumes lots of energy roasting two million pounds of coffee per year that are sold in The Fresh Market, Earth
Fare, Balducci’s and other upscale stores. When the Portland, Ore.-based company decided to upgrade its roasters with American-made
Diedrich Roasters from Ponderay, Idaho, Diedrich officials put them
in touch with Cool Energy, which created a Thermal Heat Engine, sort
of a modern steam engine, that uses the heat generated by the roasting
process to power the roaster and the entire premises.
“At some point on our packaging we hope to say we are the first
roaster in the world to create its own power,” says Mark Stell, founder
and managing partner of Portland Roasting Coffee.