From its roof sown with plants to the depths of its two geothermal wells, a new Hannaford supermarket has been declared the greenest of the green groceries in the United States. It's the first to earn the highest rating possible from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The 49,000-square-foot store on the grounds of a former high school in Augusta, Maine, opens on Saturday.

With its newly minted LEED-Platinum certification, awarded this week, the Hannaford store has become the most prominent symbol of success among the growing efforts by supermarkets to make their operations more environmentally responsible through stricter management of energy and water use and waste.

Improving energy efficiency is a key challenge for food retailers whose imperatives are to keep perishables chilled properly and customers comfortable in buildings with large front doors that are constantly opening and shutting. Typically, refrigeration eats up the most energy (PDF) in a supermarket and accounts for more than half the electricity consumed. Lighting and HVAC systems are the No. 2 and No. 3 draws, respectively, on power.

Hannaford's new store will use almost 40 percent less energy than a comparably sized store of conventional design as a result of high performance refrigeration, lighting and HVAC systems. The store also uses renewable energy sources to help light, warm and cool the site.

"There are a lot of firsts here," Hannaford's Director of Design Fred Conlogue told GreenerBuildings.com.
The new Hannaford supermarket in Augusta, Maine.
Image courtesy of Hannaford

Other supermarkets in the Delhaize Group's 169-store Hannaford chain incorporate green building elements. But none has as many as the new Augusta store, Conlogue said.

Use of a high performance Green Chill refrigeration system plays the biggest role in slashing energy consumption at the store, he said. The advanced refrigeration technology will use 50 percent less energy than a traditional system.

The system also enables the store to capture the heat from the coolers and use it in warming the store, which has a 41-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system — the largest in the Maine — and two 750-foot deep geothermal wells on the property to help regulate the temperature in the store. Together, the systems make it possible for Hannaford to heat the store without relying on fossil fuels, Conlogue said.

The company pursued "a very bold and radically different robust solution" to lighting as well, said Conlogue.

There are 50 skylights in the new supermarket, a dozen solar tubes, large windows, transom glass on three walls and, in the ceiling near the center of the store, a pop-up glass pavilion whose perimeter is lined with light shelves. Made with fabric, the angled shelves bounce the light from glass pavilion toward the ceiling to illuminate more of the store. The electrical lighting system uses T8 and T5 high efficiency fixtures and is tied to the daylighting system to further manage energy consumption.

Freezer and cold cases — in the aisles where dairy products, cold beverages, frozen food and other chilled goods can be found — also have features that help cut energy use for refrigeration and light. Almost all the freezers and cold cases have doors, and their interiors are equipped with LEDs that are controlled by motion sensors. As someone approaches the case, the lights turn on; they turn off again when there's no foot traffic near them.

Hannaford also expects to reduce water consumption by more than 38 percent, saving about a half million gallons annually thanks to low-flow dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals and low-flow faucets in restrooms and ice-free cases in the store's seafood department, Conlogue said.

A green roof covering 7,000 square feet also will help manage runoff and help insulate the store. Other parts of the roof are covered with a light-colored, highly reflective membrane to further aid building insulation.

The store's other Earth-friendly features include use of radiant heat to warm the concrete floors in the check-out area and melt snow on the entryway sidewalk; reflective material on the surface of the parking lot to reduce heat-island effects; and prime parking spots for hybrids, carpool vehicles and bicycles.

In dismantling the abandoned old high school on the property, Hannaford recycled or reused 96 percent of the structure’s materials and 99 percent of the contents. Almost all of the construction waste from the building project was recycled as well, Conlogue said.

Ongoing programs at the new site include in-store recycling and serving as a learning center and lab for other Hannaford stores. There's also an educational feature for customers. A detailed display on green building and store operations is located in the supermarket's foyer. In constructing the store, Hannaford participated in the USGBC's retail pilot program to help develop a new green building standard for the retail sector.

Images courtesy of Hannaford.