AUSTIN, Texas (April 21, 2009) —
Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) today announces a comprehensive energy commitment that more than triples the number of stores with solar panels, extending its commitment to offset 100 percent of its use of non-renewable electricity with wind energy, and investing in energy reduction opportunities while retrofitting existing stores with energy efficient lighting, equipment and mechanical components.
“Whole Foods Market is thrilled to set the environmental bar even higher by pioneering the development and deployment of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power,” said Lee Matecko, Whole Foods Market Global Vice President of Construction and Store Development. “We are also reducing energy consumption in new and existing stores with some exciting innovative technologies that are making a real difference.”
Whole Foods Market recently contracted to add solar to more than 20 locations; including existing installations, solar will be brought to the rooftops of more than 30 of the Company's stores nationwide. With an installation at its Berkeley, Calif., store in 2002, the Company became the first retailer to introduce solar power as its primary lighting source. Including potential future rollout phases, Whole Foods Market hopes to have close to 70 total locations with rooftop solar panels, close to one fourth of the Company's total number of stores.
Continuing its industry-leading commitment to wind power, Whole Foods Market is once again offsetting electricity use in its North American locations in 2009, bringing its four-year total purchase to 2 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy credits from wind farms. This is the equivalent of the electricity used in more than 160,000 homes in one year. To create a similar environmental impact, more than 220,000 cars would have to be taken off the road for one year. In December 2005, the Company became the first Fortune 500 Company to offset 100 percent of its electricity use with wind energy credits.
Energy Savings and Emissions Reductions
The Company is also expanding its comprehensive energy approach to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by using on-site alternative and renewable energy sources for new stores while reducing energy consumption in existing stores and facilities.
Whole Foods Market hosts and pays for the energy delivered by an on-site hydrogen fuel cell at the Glastonbury, Conn., store. The fuel cell, a first for a supermarket, generates 50 percent of the electricity and heat and nearly 100 percent of the hot water needed to operate the store. Plans are in place to add fuel cells to other locations such as the Dedham, Mass., store opening this fall. The Dedham store will be the first supermarket in Massachusetts to generate nearly 100 percent of its electricity and hot water onsite with an ultra-clean 400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) fuel cell.
“We will be avoiding half, to almost all of the power needed by traditional grid sources in several locations by using fuel cells and waste-to-electricity technologies,” said Kathy Loftus, Whole Foods Market Global Leader of Sustainable Engineering, Maintenance and Energy Management. “We are also retrofitting existing stores with more energy-efficient equipment – from state-of-the-art, energy-efficient lighting to more sophisticated energy controls and monitoring systems – and have saved in excess 15 million kWh of electricity in the past two years, reducing energy consumption up to 20 percent for certain stores. This is only the beginning for Whole Foods Market – we have so much more in the works to accomplish.”
Whole Foods Market has set internal energy-reduction goals for new stores as well. The company is a steering committee member of the Department of Energy's Retail Energy Alliance and is participating in programs to develop buildings that will use 30 to 50 percent less energy than required by code, as well as working with manufacturers and partners to develop increasingly higher energy efficiency equipment and systems for supermarkets.
Green Certifications and Tracking
Environmental certifications for new Whole Foods Market stores have been abundant in recent years, reflecting the Company's commitment to energy-efficient designs and equipment. The Company opened the first-ever LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified grocery store in Sarasota, Fla., in 2005. Since then, four other Whole Foods Market stores have earned LEED certification: Austin, Texas; Pacific Coast Highway/El Segundo, Calif.; Lakewood/Dallas, Texas; and most recently, the Chicago South Loop store, which earned LEED Gold certification.
The Lakewood store in Texas is also the first store to receive the EPA GreenChill's Silver Level store certification. The award is granted to food retailers with environmentally friendly refrigerant usage.
Whole Foods Market is developing an inventory of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, which will help track and report natural gas and electricity consumption, refrigerant leaks and trucking fleet emissions. The Company is also setting internal goals for greenhouse gas reduction in future years by using smart design and energy reduction technologies.
Learn more about other earth-friendly initiatives at Whole Foods Market at blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/category/green-action, and find more information on Earth Month activities can be found at wholefoodsmarket.com/earthmonth.