Sustainable Grocery Stores

Green Building

A pioneer in building environmentally sustainable or “green” grocery stores, PCC has been designing our stores to reduce our environmental impact since the 1990s. Our Redmond store was the first grocery store in the nation to earn LEED Gold certification. A year later, our Edmonds store achieved the highest LEED certification of Platinum. We’re not resting on our laurels — as we build new stores, we are committed to certifying them to LEED standards.

Our store development team works with our architects and designers to build beautiful, functional and sustainable stores. Design features include recycled content finishes, low-maintenance flooring and low-toxicity paint. Our lighting fixtures are highly efficient in our new stores; as we remodel stores, we’re retrofitting older fixtures. Many of our stores also include a waste heat recovery system that collects waste heat from refrigeration and uses it to heat spaces and preheat water. We also use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood to build out all of our new stores.

A few stores have deep green eco-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/year). Fremont PCC was Seattle’s first business to install a solar panel, which is a 3kw demonstration project.

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 the daylighting and supplement the lighting 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. We also have systems that capture waste heat from refrigeration to heat spaces and water.

compost machine

Food Waste Reduction

Wasted food has so much more impact than just the waste itself — it generates greenhouse gas emissions and takes up valuable landfill space. Food shouldn’t end up in landfills — it should be eaten. PCC has been working on reducing its 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.

Our Columbia City, Edmonds, Redmond and Bothell stores have a unique composting program through a partnership with the WISErg Corporation. The WISErg composting machines are specially designed to liquefy mass amounts of food scraps, including animal products, into a nutrient-rich slurry that the company takes back and converts into fertilizer used to grow organic crops.

compostable packaging

Responsible Packaging

In 2018, PCC set a goal of eliminating petroleum-based plastics from our deli packaging. We are in the process of achieving that goal. Our packaging standard, which considers both human health and environmental impacts, guides how we select the packaging for the products we produce. As we eliminate petroleum-based plastics, we will be using more compostable packaging in our stores, some of it made with polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastic. The PLA resin used to manufacture bioplastics is made in the USA from corn, which is genetically engineered (GE). We mitigate the impacts of GE cropping systems by purchasing offsets through 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
solar panels

Renewable Energy

In the business sector, PCC is an early adopter of the application of renewable energy. Fremont PCC was the first business in Seattle to install solar panels and we also were among the first to embrace local utility green power programs. We continue to grow our commitment to green, renewable energy — in 2017, we pledged to move to 100% renewable energy; we are in the process of achieving that goal.

bike racks

Low-Carbon Transportation

We have long supported low-carbon transportation. Our stores are sited in areas that are walkable or accessible using public transportation. We support cycling by not only providing bike racks, but also by providing employee showers at our new stores and office. Our Edmonds store has a well-used electric vehicle (EV) charging station, and we plan to add EV charging at our other stores.

Climate Change

Climate change is real, is happening and there’s a lot we can do about it. PCC is tracking our carbon emissions and working to reduce them. We build our stores and operate in a way to reduce our carbon footprint. This includes efforts mentioned above, like transportation, food waste reduction and renewable energy, but also includes efforts to ensure our refrigeration systems have the lowest carbon footprint possible.

In addition, we are working with the Climate Collaborative, a national organization focused on tackling climate change in the natural products industry. Along with other members of the collaborative, we are working to respond to climate change by: integrating carbon farming into the supply chain, increasing energy efficiency, reducing food waste, removing commodity-driven deforestation from our supply chain, reducing the climate impacts of packaging, engaging on climate policy, transitioning to renewable energy, reducing pollutants and reducing the climate impacts of transportation. In Washington state, we are engaging on smart climate policy through our work with Washington Business for Climate Action.