Convenience Retailers Tackle Major Eco-Friendly Projects (Slideshow)

CSP honors three chains with Environmental Stewardship Awards

By 
Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Pete Davis Samantha Oller Ryan Sheetz CSP Outlook Environmental Stewardship Awards (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores)

Pete Davis (left), Samantha Oller, Ryan Sheetz

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Three convenience-store retailers were honored Tuesday morning for their green building design, company policies and more during CSP's 2014 Outlook Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Sheetz Inc., Rainbo Oil Co./Kwik Stop and Flyers Energy each received recognition in CSP's Environmental Stewardship Awards.

Sheetz Inc., Altoona, Pa.

Sheetz, in dedicating itself to a healthy working environment, also kept green design in mind when it built its Center for Shwellness in Claysburg, Pa.

Opened in 2012, the 12,000-square-foot health-and-wellness facility provides Sheetz employees with a spot to work out, get a check up and take a break during a hectic day. But the LEED-certified Center for Shwellness also is a healthful addition to the environment.

"Part of our DNA is about being connected, connected to the communities we serve, so it makes sense for us to carry out the Sheetz mission and Sheetz operations trying to be an environmentally responsible as possible so that we can have a holistic, positive impact on the environment and communities in which we serve," said Ryan Sheetz, director of brand development and sales.

One of the biggest elements that helped the Center for Shwellness earn Gold LEED certification was its recycling program, an offer that Sheetz is now introducing to its stores. The retailer first piloted a recycling program in Altoona in early 2013 at five locations, placing bins for both employees and customers to use.

And although the program is limited to five stores, its impact has been incredible, collecting 82 tons of material each year between the five stores and the corporate office. Sheetz plans to roll out the program over the near term to all 500 of its locations.

Rainbo Oil Co./Kwik Stop, Dubuque, Iowa

Sustainability is a way of life that touches much of Rainbo Oil Co.'s operations and practices.

It can be seen in Rainbo Oil's recycling program, which started with the passion of one employee in the corporate office who wanted to reduce the amount of paper and other materials that were being thrown away. From there, it spread to all of Rainbo Oil's 17 c-stores and fast-food restaurants.

"We have garbage cans at all of our cubicles, all of our workstations throughout the company," said vice president Jill Reimer. "Each store has [trash] Dumpster and a recycling dumpster, so recyclable materials are separated out. Inside the store you'll see garbage cans for plastic and cardboard, which makes it easy when they go out.

Other evidence of Rainbo Oil's commitment to sustainability can be found inside the c-stores. Energy-efficient LED lighting illuminates everything from the coolers to the restrooms, and solar tubes in the ceiling provide natural light during the day.

At the checkout of Rainbo Oil's Kwik Stop stores, customers are offered paper bags instead of plastic to help them reduce their environmental impact.

Another way that Rainbo Oil hopes to reduce its environment impact is through food waste. To this end, the company is working on introducing composting at one of its c-store/fast-food locations.

Rainbo Oil has also made an effort at investigating and offering alternatives on the forecourt. There's homegrown biofuels such as E85 and a compressed natural gas location that sits right at a major transportation hub, near where three states intersect.

"There are a lot of offerings to help you live your goal and live your commitment to sustainability if you research them," Reimer said.

Flyers Energy LLC, Auburn, Calif.

From biofuels to solar panels to complete ethanol plants, Flyers Energy has found multiple ways to keep its carbon footprint to a minimum.

Part of that is by circumstance--doing business in California has given the chain motivation to stay one step ahead of the state's regulatory agenda. But it also has a solid business case, beginning with its network of more than 40 Flyers c-stores.

"We started off doing efficiency measures. We did white roofs on everything … it allowed our stores to run cooler," said vice president David Dwelle. "We put in bigger ice machines so we could make ice at night when the electricity was inexpensive. We went through and did lighting retrofits on all aspects of our building, including the lights inside the walk-in boxes."

Then there is Flyers' dedication to solar power. The company first explored the renewable energy in 2001 after seeing electricity prices double. It installed solar panels on top of the fuel canopies and stores at 24 of its Flyers c-stores. At some of these sites, the panels provide 75% or more of their electricity needs, showing solar a worthy investment.

Beyond its c-stores, Flyers Energy has a solar installation business, Pacific Power Renewables, which installs and operates panels for entities from car dealerships to high schools to wastewater treatment plants.

Flyers' sustainability promise can also be found on the forecourt, in its fuel choices. Besides offering CNG and biodiesel some of its cardlock locations, Flyers sells the state-mandated E10 and at some sites, E85. It took another step in 2009 when it invested in an ethanol plant in Pixley, Calif., one of two it partners with today.

Watch CSP Daily News and CSPTV in coming weeks for complete reports on our Environmental Stewardship Award winners.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers
Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
View More Articles By Steve Holtz