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Stop & Shop said today that it has been selected to participate in the U.S. Green Building Council Portfolio Program pilot for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) volume certification of existing buildings. The Quincy, Mass.-based grocer and its sister company, Giant Food of Landover, […]

LEEDStop & Shop said today that it has been selected to participate in the U.S. Green Building Council Portfolio Program pilot for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) volume certification of existing buildings. The Quincy, Mass.-based grocer and its sister company, Giant Food of Landover, Md., will be the only supermarkets included in the pilot program; other participants include Starbucks (SBUX), Bank of America (BAC), and UC Merced.

The Portfolio Program is designed to help owners integrate the LEED green building rating system into multiple new and existing buildings. The program offers volume certification of buildings and helps owners track their environmental performance as they work with the USGBC to improve it. “Greening” existing buildings could save owners big on operational costs and have a significant effect on the environment — the USGBC estimates that buildings account for 36 percent of the total energy use and 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

The LEED certification process is the benchmark for sustainable design, construction and operation of high-performance buildings. The process looks at everything from material use, to energy efficiency, to the indoor environmental quality of the building. Operating in 41 countries, LEED certification offers financial savings in construction and operating costs as well as environmental benefits.

Stop & Shop claims that its supermarkets, with stores in the often cold Northeast, use 40 percent less energy than its competitors, on average. The energy-efficient attributes of its stores include white reflective TPO roof membrane, daylight harvesting, T5 fluorescent lighting systems with dimmable ballasts and occupancy sensors controlled by state-of-the-art energy management systems, refrigeration systems with high-efficiency fan motors, and low-energy glass.

Supermarket giant Wal-Mart (WMT), which has been working to green its image and boost profits by cutting waste, recently decided not to join the LEED program, saying they had “explored many of the sustainable design guidelines embodied in the LEED rating system. However, Wal-Mart’s foremost goal was to focus on technologies and products that fit with the mission statement.” As articulated by Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, that mission includes investing $500 million a year to cut energy use at stores by 30 percent, as well as reducing solid waste by 25 percent over three years.

The LEED certification program offers property owners a very clear connection between increasing energy efficiency and cost savings. Stop & Shop has set the bar high for the supermarket industry, which spends a huge amount of money and energy on refrigeration and lighting. Boosting the efficiency of existing buildings creates local jobs and a large return on investment, especially when deployed across a chain of properties. The LEED Program Portfolio pilot is now closed, but will re-open again in the middle of next year, when it will provide additional volume certification.

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