CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (August 24, 2012) – Whole Foods Market, the nation’s leading natural and organic grocer is furthering its commitment to protecting the environment by operating its North Atlantic kitchen facility on a renewable energy system that generates power using recycled waste cooking oil from its stores.
The 70,000 square foot building, located at 9 Commercial Street in Everett, houses the kitchen facility for the North Atlantic and Northeast regions of Whole Foods Market, supplying prepared foods and other products to 62 Whole Foods Market stores located in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.
The on-site generator, which is owned and operated by Massachusetts-based Lifecycle Renewables, Inc, produces power using a fuel called LR100, which is 100 percent hyper-refined waste cooking oil collected from the commissary itself, 28 Whole Foods Market locations in the North Atlantic region and a number of Boston-area restaurants and cooking facilities. The waste vegetable oil is refined using a chemical-free process, at Lifecycle Renewable’s refinery in Charlestown.
Whole Foods Market’s commissary system requires up to 3,000 gallons of LR100 each week in order to generate enough power to operate the facility around the clock for seven days a week.” Operating at a limit of 250kW, the generator will meet the energy needs of the entire commissary during standard operation; producing over 2,000,000 kWh’s per year. The generator also has the capability to produce more energy, up to 500kW, in the case of an emergency. It is estimated that powering the renewable energy system will divert 156,000 gallons of waste oil annually, with more than 62,000 gallons of that oil coming directly from Whole Foods Market.
“This project has helped us to not only minimize waste, but also to support our goals for finding cleaner energy sources, while easing the burden on the local electricity grid,” says Kathy Loftus, Global Leader of Sustainable Engineering, Maintenance and Energy Management for Whole Foods Market. “We couldn’t be more excited that what began as a vision is now another real life demonstration of our core values of supporting and enriching our communities and the environment.”
Producing electricity with waste cooking oil avoids new carbon dioxide emissions attributed to the use of fossil fuels in the generating of electricity. Exhaust emissions that are produced by canola oil contain virtually no sulfur oxides and sulfates, both major contributors to acid rain. In fact, the use of LR100 reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent compared to traditional diesel.
“Whole Foods Market has been the best partner for us in introducing this pioneering green technology,” says Rory Gaunt, Chief Executive Officer of Lifecycle Renewables, Inc. “The renewable energy system aligns with their commitment to the environment, as well as producing significant cost savings for the company.”
The project to build the renewable energy system for the Whole Foods Market commissary was financed by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. National Grid, Zapotec Energy and the Department of Environmental Protection were all instrumental in bringing the renewable energy system to fruition.
Whole Foods Market is always seeking methods for protecting the environment through alternative energy production. Currently the North Atlantic region utilizes solar energy and fuel cell technology to power several stores. Additionally, the region is successfully diverting around 80 percent of all waste generated in stores and facilities.