March 10, 2010

Hannaford set to open greenest grocery store


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A worker carries a ladder outside a new Hannaford supermarket Wednesday, July 22, 2009 in Augusta, Maine. Opening Saturday, it's the nation's first to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's highest platinum standard for environmentally friendly construction. The wooden supports for the covered walkway are recycled from a World War II hangar in southern Maine. (AP Photo/Joel Page)


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Staff photo by Joe Phelan Beth Newlands Campbell, Hannaford Supermarkets executive vice president, right, talks about the covered freezer cases while leading a tour for Ron Hodges, Hannaford Supermarkets president and chief executive officer, left and Gov. John Baldacci at the new Hannaford Supermarket on Cony Street in Augusta.

Joe Phelan

Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — What a national council is calling the world's most environmentally advanced supermarket will open Saturday at the former site of Cony High School.

The new Hannaford supermarket is the first in the world to achieve the United States Green Building Council's highest-rated Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, said Rick Fedrizzi, the council's president and chief executive officer.

''Our review team said it was one of the cleanest, most amazing projects they'd seen in a very long time,'' Fedrizzi said Thursday during a ceremony at the new store. ''This store will use less energy, less water, create less waste, it will do tremendous things. But what it does most is educate.''

Fedrizzi said the 50,000-square-foot building will use about 50 percent less energy than a conventional building of the same size.

''Why wouldn't we build the most environmentally advanced supermarket in the world, and why wouldn't we want to build it in the state capital of our home state?'' said Ronald Hodge, Hannaford's CEO and president.

The store's location, at the former site of the city's high school, was a controversial choice and the subject of multiple lawsuits between residents and the city that have since been resolved. The city sold the 6-acre site to a developer for $1.5 million.

Objections included the process used by the city to sell the land and the sale of the school property for uses other than education.

The lot is also a relatively constrained space, with businesses and homes on three sides and the remaining Cony flatiron building and busy Cony Circle on the fourth.

Gov. John Baldacci said he and Hodge looked at the site several months ago and both said it was hard to picture a supermarket there.

Baldacci praised Hannaford's leadership for building the store, which he said he hopes will be a model for other businesses.

''I know where the first lady and I are going to be shopping, Baldacci said. ''We're going to be coming right to this store.''

One person who said it's highly unlikely he'll be shopping there is William Johnson of Willow Street, who was involved in three lawsuits against the city related to the site.

He said he used to shop at the Hannaford store on Willow Street but he and ''a good number of others'' switched to Shaw's in response to Hannaford's public relations campaign -- he calls it their ''liar flyer campaign,'' leading up to a 2005 referendum regarding the city's sale of the property.

''It's an inappropriate commercial development right in a neighborhood, and it's way over scale for the neighborhood,'' Johnson said of the new store. ''It doesn't belong there.''

The supermarket will open at 8 a.m. Saturday. Its ''green'' features include:

nA ''GreenChill'' refrigeration system, which uses 50 percent less refrigerant gas than a traditional system.

nDoors on nearly all freezer and refrigerated cases, saving energy and creating warmer in-store temperatures for shoppers and workers.

nWater from two 750-foot-deep geothermal wells, used to help regulate the building's temperature.

nWhat Hannaford says is the largest solar panel array in the state.

nNumerous skylights and windows designed to bring in natural light, and lights that dim or turn off when they're not needed.

nSome lights on motion sensors, which turn off when no one is there.

nAn educational area in the entryway of the store, with environmental information.

nLow-flow, dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals and low-flow faucets in restrooms, and ice-free cases in the seafood department, which together are expected to reduce water usage by 38 percent.

nSome parking spots, close to the store, reserved for employee car and van pools, and shoppers who drive low-emission hybrid vehicles.

One of the more unusual design features is green and red plants, sedums, on 7,000 square feet of the roof.

Gunnar Hubbard, principal of Fore Solutions, a Portland-based green building consultant who worked on the project, said the plants do not require watering, and the layered system of soil and plants will reduce water runoff and help insulate the store.

Store Manager Ruben Lemelin said the new store will employee 159 people, about twice as many as at the Willow Street Hannaford.

All employees from Willow Street will move to the new store, Lemelin said.

Lemelin said he could not reveal the cost of the new store. He did say it cost 20 to 25 percent more to build than a conventional store its size.

City records filed as Hannaford sought a permit for the project in 2006 indicated that it would cost about $10 million.

The store replaces Hannaford's Willow Street store, which will close tonight.

Lemelin said Hannaford does not plan to demolish the Willow Street store, and hopes a new use can be found for the building -- just not another supermarket.

Hannaford's competitor, Shaw's Supermarkets, recently completed extensive renovations of its Augusta store on Western Avenue, and plans a ''grand reopening'' today.

Changes to the 66,584-square-foot Shaw's include greater produce selection, more organic and natural products, an expanded selection of prepared foods, a redesigned liquor department and an expanded pharmacy waiting area.

A new Hannaford in Winthrop will also open on Saturday.

A new Hannaford that's under construction in China is expected to open in late August.

Michael Norton, Hannaford's spokesman, said that while Hannaford may not seek ''green certification'' for its other stores, it will incorporate some of the new features from the Augusta store in other buildings.

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