Hannaford Supermarkets, Augusta, Maine

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AUGUSTA, Maine – Tucked right in among the organic vegetables and a strong dose of New England practicality, the new Hannaford Supermarkets store also offers an unlikely commodity for a retail grocery: knowledge.

When the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the store its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design®) Platinum designation just days before it opened, the Scarborough-based chain became the first supermarket in the country to achieve such an honor.

Unlike many building projects, though, completion of the building phase didn’t mark the end of the company’s green commitment. With the ability to monitor almost 1,000 different aspects of the operation, company officials see the new store as a green-building learning lab for the community and the industry as they carry its materials, equipment and procedures into future store designs.

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One aspect of the project that’s unlikely to cause concern well into the future: the use of both full- and thin-veneer natural stone on both the exterior and interior of the new structure.

GOING GREEN

Why would a regional supermarket chain want to invest the time and money to achieve Platinum LEED status? Rande Gray, Hannaford’s design project manager, says it ties back into the company’s long history of offering local products, along with a corporate sense of responsibility.

“We wanted to expand our existing accomplishments in environmental issues and energy,” she says. “We wanted to push the envelope, and we’ve been interested in LEED for awhile. This site also provided us with some unique opportunities to go for the platinum designation.

“It’s a natural next step forward for us.”

She explains that the site of the new store wouldn’t exactly be the dream of most developers. Rather than a pristine lot at the edge of Maine's capitol city, the spot marks the previous location of Augusta’s high school. When Hannaford bought the property, it had to deal with both the old building and its contents.

“Many of the rooms were filled with all types of furniture, from lab desks to bleachers,” Gray says. “We donated them to different facilities in Maine and New Hampshire, as well as in places like Jamaica and Guatemala. Ultimately, we were able to reuse about 99 percent of the contents.”

The building was then disassembled, also with recycling in mind. For instance, the building’s steel was cut into 4’ lengths and sent for recycling, while the foundation was crushed and used as fill at the site. Ultimately, Gray estimates the process recycled 96 percent of the structure.