Two PCC Community Markets Stores Earn Living Building Challenge Petal Certification During Earth Month

2023 News

International Living Future Institute recognizes Downtown and Kirkland PCCs; Certifications mark the co-op’s fourth and fifth stores to earn the world’s most ambitious and holistic green building standard.

(SEATTLE, April 18, 2023)PCC Community Markets (PCC or “the co-op”), the largest community-owned food market in the U.S. and currently celebrating its 70th anniversary, today announced that its Downtown and Kirkland stores earned the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification, established and awarded by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) for meeting the world’s most rigorous green building standards. These locations join Ballard PCC, the world’s first grocery store to receive this certification, in addition to PCC’s West Seattle and Bellevue stores, in this esteemed recognition.

“The work to become LBC Petal-Certified ensures that the design of our stores and the building material choices align with the equally high standards for the products on our shelves,” said PCC Director of Store Design Lori Ross. “The certifications for Downtown and Kirkland are significant milestones in the co-op’s practice of regenerative operations and advance the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve.”

The Living Building Challenge consists of seven key performance categories (or “Petals”) with each subdivided into precise Imperatives. Certifications are awarded to projects that achieve at least three Petals. In pursuit of ILFI’s Petal Certification, both PCC locations met stringent requirements for the Materials, Place and Beauty Petals worked to create a symbiotic relationship between the community and the built environment.

The Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, certification and advocacy tool that defines the leading measure of sustainability and provides a framework for projects that move towards becoming truly regenerative. PCC’s five LBC Petal-Certified stores — a third of the co-op’s total store portfolio — illustrate PCC’s approach to reducing environmental harm and creating spaces that have a strong connection to their neighborhoods as well as nature.

“PCC Community Markets is showing that ambitious, regenerative building practices can be applied across a real estate portfolio to bring their mission of nourishing communities to life,” said Lindsay Baker, CEO of the International Living Future Institute. “Their efforts chart a path for other businesses that want to translate commitments around climate, health and justice into tangible, meaningful action.”


Place Petal: Protecting and Restoring Ecosystems

The Place Petal mandates where it is acceptable to build, how to protect and restore a place once it is developed, and how to encourage the creation of communities that are centered around pedestrians rather than vehicles. The ILFI’s Habitat Exchange Program works to protect existing, thriving ecosystems from compromise as a result of development. The co-op participated in this program and contributed funds to protect, in perpetuity, an area of land equivalent to PCC’s combined building footprint for its five LBC certified locations of approximately 113,791 square feet. With this support, PCC is protecting land that is about twice the size of a football field.

In designing and building stores, PCC worked to reduce the environmental impact of human movement by providing resources for staff and shoppers who are walking, biking or taking public transit to the stores. Each location features bike racks and changing facilities. Additionally, PCC advocated for electric vehicle (EV) charging with the property developers, which helped secure 10 EV parking stalls at Downtown PCC and created the capacity for four EV parking stalls at Kirkland PCC.


Materials Petal: Investment in Safe and Locally Sourced Materials

One of the most critical and resource-intensive elements of the certification is eliminated building materials that contain chemicals on the LBC “Red List.” LBC works to eliminate the use of worst-in-class materials and chemicals with an extensive list of over 10,000 toxic substances, such as vinyl, BPA and formaldehyde, that have the greatest negative impact to human and ecosystem health.

PCC invested thousands of hours over two years and reviewed hundreds of building materials and pieces of equipment to confirm that all materials used in constructing the Downtown and Kirkland stores were LBC compliant. Following review, PCC submitted a detailed record of how each material is made by the manufacturer. Additionally, PCC adhered to specifications for types of timber and sourced Red List-free interior materials for drywall, concrete finishes and paints. PCC also worked with some manufacturers to update processes and deliver custom designs.

The co-op reduced the environmental impact of products and transportation of goods in construction while supporting the local economy by sourcing materials locally whenever possible and reusing some materials (including shelving and appliances) from other stores. Overall, the co-op limited the embodied carbon footprints through design choices (such as wood custom casework that is generally less carbon intensive than metal), selecting lightweight steel and aluminum substitutes and recycled materials whenever possible, and choosing concrete flooring and exposed ceilings. Notably, 97% of building materials for both stores are sourced from within North America.


Beauty Petal: Designing Buildings that Elevate Our Spirit
The Beauty Petal encourages the design of spaces that connect people to nature, culture, art and education. For a neighborhood PCC to be not just a grocery store but a community space that offers inspiration, PCC worked with local artists to design art installations that represent each unique location, elevate shopper spirits and provoke thought and conversation.

Shoppers at Downtown PCC are immersed in the story of Andrea M. Wilbur-Sigo’s work titled “A Way of Life” in the form of two house post wooden carvings mounted on the interior dining area wall. Wilbur-Sigo is a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe and is the first known woman carver of the many generations of carvers in the Coast Salish style. The house posts depict two individuals and convey the connection between people and the environment.

“My works explores the balance between the environment and industrial activities, inspiring conversations about our complicated relationship with nature,” shared Wilbur-Sigo. “I chose to collaborate with PCC because of their focus on sustainability in their products and even in-store design. I am pleased to have this opportunity to share these carvings with the PCC community – bringing nature into an industrial space.”

At Kirkland PCC, shoppers are welcomed by five columns of hand-glazed ceramic tiles representing “World Tablecloths” by artist Mary Iverson. Each column features a tablecloth design inspired by the textile patterns of a unique culture that is part of the community makeup of Kirkland: Coast Salish, Nordic, Indian, Japanese and English. “As a group, the columns support this gathering space and celebrate the communities that have come together to create the City of Kirkland,” said Iverson.


A Legacy of Greening Building at PCC

A pioneer in operating environmentally sustainable grocery stores, PCC has been designing its buildings to reduce their environmental impact since the 1990s. In 2007, Redmond PCC became the first grocery store in the nation to earn LEED Gold certification. Next, Edmonds PCC achieved LEED Platinum. Burien PCC is the first grocery store in the nation to achieve LEED v4 certification, which is the most stringent version of LEED green building certification.

Some of our stores have “deep green” design features. For example, Edmonds PCC collects rainwater from the building’s roof into a tank, supplying water as needed to toilets and landscape irrigation — adding up to about 160,000 gallons each year. Fremont PCC was Seattle’s first business to install a solar panel, which is a 3kw demonstration project.

In 2020, the co-op became the first grocery store in the world to earn LBC Petal Certification with Ballard PCC. Today, Downtown PCC and Kirkland PCC are the fourth and fifth stores, respectively, to be LBC Petal Certified. Previously certified PCC stores are Ballard, Bellevue and West Seattle.

“As we celebrate our 70th year as a co-op, PCC is pursuing new paths towards a more healthy, sustainable future for all, in alignment with our triple-bottom-line operating model,” said PCC Senior Director of Sustainability, Advocacy and Standards Aimee Simpson. “We are sharing this happy news during Earth Month, but at our co-op, it’s the way we do business year-round.”


About PCC Community Markets

Founded in Seattle in 1953, PCC Community Markets (PCC) is a certified organic retailer and the nation’s largest community-owned food market. With an active membership of more than 110,000 members, PCC is committed to a triple bottom line that balances environmental, social and economic goals while reducing environmental impacts and giving back to its community. PCC is a haven for those who share a dedication to fresh, organic, seasonal food that is sustainably sourced from over 800 local producers, farmers, ranchers and fishers. The co-op’s mission is to ensure that good food nourishes the communities it serves, while cultivating vibrant, local, organic food systems. PCC operates 16 stores in the Puget Sound area, including the cities of Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Edmonds, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Seattle. Seattle stores are in the neighborhoods of Ballard, Central District, Columbia City, Downtown, Fremont, Green Lake, View Ridge and West Seattle.


About the International Living Future Institute

The International Living Future Institute’s mission is to cultivate a society that is socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. To do this, the organization envisions a Living Future and shows that it works better in practice and policy. The Institute is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is needed to reconcile humanity’s relationship with the natural world. The Institute’s programs have shaped more than 55 million square-feet of real estate development across the United States and around the world. Learn more at

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