When one thinks about natural and organic foods, national grocery store chain Whole Foods Market immediately comes to mind. The natural and organic products retailer is the largest of its kind in the nation, spawning over 270 stores in the United States and United Kingdom and employing over 54,000 people throughout its corporation. Such an operation of this size certainly has the potential to leave quite a large carbon footprint.
To offset this, Whole Foods has a very comprehensive green strategy. The usual suspects are part of this, including on-site renewable energy and purchase of renewable energy credits; green building design; electric vehicle charging stations and a fleet of delivery vehicles being converted to biodiesel fuels. Whole Foods also offers some useful mobile phone applications to help consumers live greener lives. To get a better idea of the chain’s overall green technology focus, we turned to several spokespeople in the organization for details.
EarthTechling (ET): What types of renewable energy practices, if any, is Whole Foods doing at its stores?
Whole Foods (WF): Whole Foods Market uses a comprehensive alternative energy approach to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Our portfolio of sources around the country includes a mix of on-site solar power and fuel cells, electricity offsets from wind power and other energy efficiency and power reduction technologies.
We have purchased more than 2.5 million MWh of wind-based renewable energy and have plans to continue to support renewable energy into the future—by purchasing the energy generated locally by renewable plants and possibly additional Renewable Energy Certificates in the future.
Our Berkeley, California store was the nation’s first major food retailer to introduce solar energy as its primary lighting power source in 2002. We have 14 stores and our Cheshire, Connecticut Distribution Center either hosting or using solar power to supplement traditional power, including one of the largest solar arrays in the state of Connecticut at our distribution center. We are looking at adding more solar panels.
We employ an on-site hydrogen fuel cell at our Glastonbury store, and the store generates 50 percent of the electricity and heat and nearly 100 percent of the hot water needed to operate the store on-site using fuel cell technology. We also employ a fuel cell for our Dedham store, in which all of the power used to operate the store is generated on-site through fuel cell and solar panels. We will be installing a fuel cell at our San Jose store, as well as other locations.
Lastly, we are testing the feasibility of additional on-site clean energy projects such as a wind turbine to generate all power on-site for one of our facilities in Massachusetts.