Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food Co-ops LEED Building Practices

I love having a great co-op right up the's full of natural light, friendly people, and fresh, organic products. It's actually great to have so many co-ops in the Twin Cities. The current article I was fortunate to write for The Mix, "Food Co-ops LEED Building Practices," was especially interesting. I admit, I always enjoy writing for this publication. The assignments are always educational, the editor is wonderful, and they are fun to write. This one in particular really addresses current issues:
The Twin Cities food co-ops have always been ahead of their time. They were selling locally grown produce and organic products long before they gained widespread acceptance. Along with their commitment to natural food and the environment, it only makes sense that co-ops would be innovators who are building to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. By following these principles, the stores have made energy saving choices on behalf of the business and the environment. With everything from providing more bike racks to utilizing more efficient refrigeration to using more daylight and less electricity, the stores are both eco-friendly and highly efficient."
How great that in a time when we are trying to save energy that these stores, which already provide locally grown, healthy food, are also cutting edge when it comes to the environment:

The bright green Seward Co-op Grocery & Deli received the LEED Gold rating in July 2010 for indoor environmental quality, design and materials reuse. “The store has a rain garden, and water-efficient landscaping. Our site retains at least 90 percent of run-off from a storm event. These initiatives make financial sense over time, and positively affect the aesthetics of the store,” said Eric Hatting, initiatives manager. “Most of the sustainable elements of our operations were implemented to improve the quality of life for employees and our community.” They are also proudly using the HOURCAR car-sharing program.

The Mississippi Market also incorporated LEED features into their store. Said Liz McMann, consumer affairs manager, “We’ve been able to take the green practices we have been doing for years to the next level.” The lights have photocell sensors, which automatically turn off lights on sunny days. They also have a staff shower and bike-repair station. “Staff members are able to commute by bike, deal with a flat, and still be fresh and ready for work,” says McMann. “While some green practices don’t have an immediate measureable benefit—it’s just the right thing to do.”

Linden Hills Co-op opened its new location in September 2010, remodeling an existing building a few blocks away from the old site. “After a year in operation, we’ll have the option to pursue LEED certification,” says Allie Mentzer, marketing and member services manager. Linden Hills has insulated exterior walls, which reduce heat transfer; a white membrane roof that replaced the old black tar roof, reducing heat absorption; and occupancy sensors that turn off lights when rooms are not in use. “The salvage company even resold, recycled or reused 98 percent of the material removed from the existing building,” said Mentzer about their strong commitment to reducing their overall carbon footprint.

The stores are not only making less of an impact on the environment, but also doing it in a smart, beautiful way that makes you not only want to shop there, but to take advantage of some of the other opportunities offered in the stores.

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