Sustainable Grocery Stores

Green Building

A pioneer in operating environmentally sustainable grocery stores, PCC has been designing our buildings to reduce their environmental impact since the 1990s. Redmond PCC was the first grocery store in the nation to earn LEED Gold certification. A year later, Edmonds PCC achieved the highest LEED certification: 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 — 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 2019, PCC Community Markets became the first grocery store in the world to pursue Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification. Set by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), LBC is the world’s most rigorous green building standard. Read more about our work in three ILFI performance areas: Place, Beauty and Materials.

compostable packaging

Responsible Packaging

In 2018, PCC set a goal of eliminating petroleum-based plastics from all of our deli packaging. Our packaging standards, which consider impacts to both the environment and human health, guide how we select packaging for our own products. As we eliminate petroleum-based plastics, we will be replacing them with compostable options, some made with polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastic. PLA resin used to manufacture bioplastics in the U.S. is made with corn that has been genetically engineered (GE). We mitigate the impacts of GE cropping systems by purchasing offsets from the Nebraska Farmer’s Union Working Landscapes Program, which pays farmers to convert to more sustainable farming practices, including growing non-GE corn. We continue to work to reduce the impact of our packaging and are collaborating with our vendors to do the same.

read more about our packaging standards

Learn what goes where in our updated packaging waste guide.

watersense faucet

Water Conservation

Water is essential to ecosystems. As we build our stores or remodel existing stores, we are continuing to focus on water conservation. Our stores include features like WaterSense fixtures, sub-meters and efficient equipment. During a remodel, we re-piped deli drain lines to eliminate the need for tempering devices at our steamers. This reduced water use in our delis and resulted in about two million gallons of water savings.

We are continuing to look for ways to improve our operations to conserve water in an effort to keep waters in streams and rivers, so that the natural world can thrive.

open case with doors

Energy Conservation

Our stores are designed and operated with energy efficiency in mind — we optimize daylighting with skylights and supplement lighting systems with high-efficiency LED fixtures. Refrigeration is energy-intensive, which is why we use energy-efficient refrigeration cases, cover open cases at night and are working to add doors to our open cases. Some of our stores have a system in place that collects heat waste, which is then used to heat spaces and preheat water.

compost machine

Food Waste Reduction

Food shouldn’t end up in landfills — it should be eaten. PCC has been working on reducing our food waste for over a decade. We accomplish this by optimizing the way we prepare food in the deli to reduce waste, sending high-quality surplus to food banks through our Grocery Rescue Program, and by providing composting in all of our stores.

solar panels

Renewable Energy

PCC was an early adopter of renewable energy in the business sector. Fremont PCC was the first business in Seattle to install solar panels, and we were among the first to embrace local utility green power programs. We continue to grow our commitment — in 2018, we achieved 100% renewable energy for our stores through the purchase of renewable energy credits.

bike racks

Low-Carbon Transportation

We encourage low-carbon transportation by locating our stores in areas that are accessible by foot, bike or bus. We support bicycle commuting not only by installing bike racks, but by providing employee showers at our new stores and at our co-op office. Our Edmonds store has a well-used electric vehicle (EV) charging station, and we are working toward installing EV charging at all of our stores.

Climate Change

Climate change is real, and there’s a lot we can do about it. In 2018, PCC set a goal to reduce the carbon emissions associated with refrigerant leaks in our stores by 50% and achieve net-positive carbon emissions across all store operations. By the end of 2018, we had already reduced leak rates and achieved carbon-neutral store operations.

PCC works with The Climate Collaborative, a national organization focused on tackling climate change in the natural products industry. Alongside other members, we are responding to climate change by empowering action across the industry. In Washington state, we advocate for smart climate policy through our work with Washington Business for Climate Action.