If you live in South Beach, chances are, you shopped at least once at Whole Foods Market on 10th and Alton Rd. Chances are, you noticed the Solar Panels on the roof.
In my energetic and stimulating conversation with Russ Benblatt, the Executive Marketing Coordinator for Whole Foods Market in the Florida region, he told me this is just part of who we are.
I thought to myself, what does that mean…part? Originally, I just wanted to know how the solar panels were working out for the store. Now, I’m interested in the whole concept of greening on the part of the store. And you should be too, regardless of where you live.
The solar panels add a modest energy influx to the store (~ 25kW/hr) back into the grid (during daylight) saving the store money on operating costs; which in turn, will save the consumer monies on overhead attached to store items. The actual reductions are yet to be recorded as the store continues to green itself on many different levels at the same time.
For instance, externally, the store has added a new roof designed to reflect sunlight rather than absorb heat. This approach saves in air-conditioning costs and the new installed skylights add natural illumination during the day; reducing current draw from overhead lighting fixtures. Cool ideas huh? But, there’s more.
The smallest Whole Foods store in the State of Florida, originally owned by Wild Oats, now has air conditioning in the offices upstairs—and easily affordable thanks to the upgrades and changes due in large part to the efforts of Kelly Mills the regional vice president for store development in Florida.
And improved ways of cooling produce/product in the back-up house coolers saves them money; producing more efficient ways of storing product. New glass-sliding doors on the cold cases have already shone a dramatic energy savings in other stores and as such are coming to the SoBe store as well. These initiatives along with bio-degradable bags and a discount for bringing your own, make the store a magnet for the Miami grocery shopper.
Moreover, the store is looking to recycle scraps for use in composting on our local community gardens and farms; that ought to make local growers happy! And correct me if I’m wrong, but there may be a business opportunity in that for the smart environmental entrepreneur.
According to Mr. Benblatt, ‘We do a lot of things at Whole Foods Market just because it’s the right thing to do; not everything is profit motivated. It’s who we are. Like I said, we’re always looking for new things to do. One of our core values is caring about our communities and the environment. It’s one of the things we always keep in mind when making any business decision that impacts the communities around each of our stores’.
To those statements, future plans to enhance the Whole Foods greening and sustainable energy movement won’t end with the latest improvements. The store embraces a mind-set of stewardship unlike most conventional markets. And, Whole Foods hopes to be an example for other local businesses in the Miami Beach area.
As an example, you may have noticed on-going construction in the parking lot. When completed, parking will be easier and more efficient, but that’s not the best part.
The best part is that Whole Foods plans on installing an electric car-charging station on their lot. Specifics on charge times, terms and lot space have yet to be worked out, but the concept is in motion; and that my fellow resident is more than encouraging—and a story unto itself as the project nears fruition.
I also want to point out; Whole Foods subsequently did apply for a state rebate to help finance these positive changes; but after construction began, and it was not a determining factor.
These changes were implemented for all the right reasons—ones that stimulate our Miami Beach community greening programs and reduce the Whole Foods carbon footprint—kudos to Whole Foods Market.