Fred Meyer Goes Green for LEED Silver

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A renovation has brought new energy and an updated look to a Fred Meyer store in Portland, Ore. The project earned the chain, a division of The Kroger Co., LEED Silver certification. It is the first LEED-certified store in Kroger’s portfolio.

“As consumer awareness grows, we’re seeing more companies making sustainability a part of their business model. Fred Meyer’s commitment is at the forefront of this process among large format retailers,” said Randy Sauer, principal, MulvannyG2, Bellevue, Wash.

The store’s sustainability measures were supported by a significant cost/benefit review: Kroger’s in-house economic analysis determined that for every dollar spent on the remodel, nine dollars in energy consumption would be saved down the road. And while the renovation added 3,000 sq. ft. to the building’s original 125,000 sq. ft., it is projected to reduce utility costs by between 1% and 2%.

The green design also played into the vibe of the location, Portland’s artsy and activist Hawthorne neighborhood.

The remodel maintains the same footprint as the store’s original 1952 footprint, but integrates the pedestrian traffic flow more effectively, with a second entrance near a bus stop. The first floor, about 80,000 sq. ft., is devoted almost exclusively to grocery. The second floor features home goods, electronics, toys, bedding, books and other items, as well as an outdoor seating area and parking deck.

Key to the upgrade was a new street-friendly design that engages pedestrians with sidewalk cafes and large windows, which allow more daylight into the interior. It also exposes part of the structural frame, giving the exterior an edgier look that appeals to the area’s demographics, while eschewing the expense and need for additional cladding.

“In a departure for Fred Meyer, we painted the exterior with oranges and reds—colors that reflect the vibrancy and energy of the local community,” added Martin Segura III, associate, MulvannyG2. “The colors, which can be seen on some other buildings in the area, pay homage to the neighborhood.”

The interior has a fresh, contemporary feel. Rather than built pieces and big accessory signs, the design relies on paint and graphic applications on the walls to convey its message.

GREEN: Fred Meyer typically remodels its stores on a 10-year cycle, which is how this project started out. Kroger decided to consider going green when Mulvanny had reached the 70% milestone on the completion of the design.

“We did a gap analysis and found out that we were very close to what was needed to qualify for LEED certification,” Segura said. “So Kroger decided to go for it,” With so much of the space devoted to groceries, Fred Meyer shares the same energy issues as a traditional supermarket operator.

“The use of energy is very important to the store’s overall operating costs,” Segura said. “We put a premium on increasing the store’s energy efficiency as much as could.”

To that end, a heat recovery system was installed. It collects hot air from the refrigeration system to heat water for the building.

“It’s a loop system that, among other things, helps deliver the refrigerant much more efficiently,” Segura said. “Putting in the new refrigeration equipment also helped with LEED because it doesn’t use any CFC-based refrigerant.”

The lighting was updated to more energy-efficient strip fluorescents, mainly T5s. On the second floor, skylights were added to take advantage of daylight. With the use of photocells in the ceiling, the lights automatically turn off in relation to the available daylight.

Other energy-saving measures include the use of night curtains on the refrigerated cases, the replacement of some large, higher-tonnage HVAC units with more efficient equipment and increased insulation in the exterior walls.

“Our energy model helped us identify R20 as the target for the walls,” Segura said.

Also contributing to LEED certification was the use of low-volatile materials and finishes to improve indoor air quality. The existing vinyl composition tile on the main level was pulled up to expose a green concrete floor.

“We polished the concrete and brought it up to current standards,” Segura added.

Other areas of the store also contributed to LEED certification, including a company-organized ride-sharing program that reduces carbon emissions, and showers and changing rooms to encourage employees to commute to the site by biking and walking. The store also features an 800-sq.-ft. reverse vending (bottle return) station on site.

“We put a green roof on it, with living plants that help mitigate some of the stormwater,” Segura added.

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