AUGUSTA, Maine — They’re calling it the greenest grocery store in all the land.
Energy-saving and environmentally friendly design and construction have earned a new Hannaford supermarket in Augusta the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest standard — a Platinum LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification.
Hannaford this week became the first supermarket chain to earn that distinction. But its new store reflects a national trend toward greener construction, operations and purchases, said David Livingston, a supermarket industry research analyst based in Wisconsin.
“They’re not only making it green for their customers, they’re making it green for their bank accounts,” Livingston said.
Supermarkets across the country have been moving toward environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings because it reduces expenses and at the same time makes customers feel good about shopping there, Livingston said.
The Washington-based Green Building Council, whose membership includes building industry advocates for use of energy-saving and cost-efficient construction, has awarded 167 Platinum projects worldwide for a variety of projects and 153 in the United States.
The Augusta store will serve as a “learning laboratory” to test innovations and products that can be used at Hannaford’s 168 other stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, said Fred Conlogue, director of design services for the chain. It opens to customers on Saturday.
The Associated Press got a first look at the new store on Wednesday.
Much of its roof is covered with drought-resistant plants to impede water runoff and insulate the 49,000-square-foot store. It draws some of its power from a 41-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system.
The roof is dotted with 50 skylights. Water from two geothermal wells 750 feet underground help to keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
To help earn its high rating, Hannaford recycled virtually all of the construction debris and contents from a high school that once stood on the site and used recycled material throughout the new store.
Counters at the pharmacy desk are made of a paper-bamboo-fiber composite. Wooden department signs are made of recycled material. Even eyeglasses sold in the store are made from reclaimed plastic, recycled metal and bamboo. Waste material from each department is composted and picked up by local farmers.
The market saves energy by using motion-detecting lights in its refrigerated cases. Low-energy lights draw some of their power from the solar fixtures, and power is turned down as more natural light fills the store. Heat pulled out of the coolers also helps to warm the store.
While it cost 25 percent more to build a store meeting LEED standards, Scarborough-based Hannaford says its new store is expected to use about half as much energy as a typical supermarket and will eventually recover the higher cost of construction.
Customers also want the stores they patronize to be run in an environmentally responsible manner, said Hannaford executive vice president Beth Newlands Campbell.
“They’re going from caring to absolutely expecting it,” she said.