Whole Foods Does Brooklyn In Ultra-Green Style

Whole Foods has come to Brooklyn in triumphant, sustainable style. Depending on how you view things, this represents either rebirth or doom for the Gowanus neighborhood (go ahead and click on the link, but you know how that gentrification debate goes).

Strictly in terms of a green building achievement, you do have to hand it to Whole Foods. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provided $720,000 to assist in bringing to life a store that Whole Foods says is 60 percent more energy efficient than your average food store, but Whole Foods toiled long and hard – nigh on a decade – to make it happen.

Whole Foods Brooklyn

The new Whole Foods, alongside the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn (image via Urban Green Energy)

For starters, the store was built “following a significant brownfield cleanup by Whole Foods,” the NYSERDA said. Indeed, the store site is right up against the infamous Gowanus Canal, a waterway declared a Superfund site in 2010, so before it could begin building, Whole Foods had to do a massive soil cleanup job.

The 56,000-square-foot market that finally arose – with a facade of 250,000 bricks reclaimed from a demolished New Jersey building – is expected to earn LEED Platinum, the highest rating given by the U.S. Green Building Council.

On the energy front, it comes with a big combined heat and power system, pegged at 157 kilowatts, that “provides simultaneous heating and chilled water year-round through cogeneration of heat and electricity, and is designed to keep the store functioning in the event of a utility grid failure.”

There’s also a whopping solar array, 324 kilowatts, that “covers much of the parking lot and will offset 380,400 kilowatt hours of electricity use from the grid, approximately 29 percent of the building’s electricity.”

Wind energy even has a small though highly visible role, with 2 Urban Green Energy Skypump EV charging stations and 19 UGE Sanya SLS street lights, which combine solar with vertical-axis turbines.

But, wait, there’s more, including a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse on the roof, where Gotham Greens will grow produce; a refrigeration system (hooked in with that CHP plant) that uses CO2 instead of nasty refrigerants like HFC and CFC; and wastewater catchment system.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

1 Comment

  • Reply December 23, 2013


    Peter, With the opening of Whole Foods in Brooklyn, the streets have
    been clogged with gas burning vehicles sitting in traffic, waiting 4 or 5
    light changes to get through the intersection where whole foods now
    sells their goods. There is no easy way for the local community to get
    to this store on foot. All of out other stores are assessable by foot.
    This is the most UNGREEN piece of urban planning ever and all those
    gadgets just won’t make up for the new loads of CO2 output that are
    going on as a result of this pour urban planning scheme.

    Lets be green with sincerity.

Leave a Reply