Fresh & Easy's LEED

Tesco's U.S. grocery/c-store chain opens environmentally friendly store

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. -- Tesco PLC, seeking to make a name for itself in the U.S. retail market, plans to open a grocery store in California on Thursday bearing an environmentally friendly badge, reported The Wall Street Journal. The store, in Cathedral City, Calif., has won Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) gold certificationa label that many commercial buildings seek as public evidence of their environmental and energy-saving design. The store is part of Tesco's Fresh & Easy U.S. grocery/convenience chain.

The Cathedral City store is [image-nocss] the retailer's first to have LEED certification, according to the newspaper.

Other retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., also are trying to boost customer appeal and shave energy bills with ecologically informed store designs, the report said.

Since November 2007, U.K.-based Tesco has opened about 125 Fresh & Easy stores in the United States. Its newly built stores share the same environmentally oriented design. The stores, focusing on Southern California and the Las Vegas and Phoenix metropolitan areas, use energy-efficient lighting and refrigerators and most of their meat, vegetables and other fresh food arrives in reusable plastic containers rather than disposable cardboard boxes.

In the U.K., Tesco stores already have begun labeling products such as orange juice and milk with the product's carbon footprint, a calculation of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from the item's production, distribution, use and disposal. Tim Mason, Fresh & Easy's CEO (pictured), said he wants to roll out carbon labels in the U.S. stores, too, though he has not decided when to do so.

Other retailers are making similar moves, said the report, sensing both impending greenhouse-gas regulations and rising consumer concern about the environment. Wal-Mart, the dominant U.S. retailer and grocer, has begun broadly integrating environmental features such as energy-efficient refrigerators and lights into its stores, and it has built a handful of stores billed as particularly environmentally friendly.

Mason said Fresh & Easy's store design uses about 30% less energy than a comparably sized conventional store.

Tesco is making other high-profile environmental moves in California. Atop a distribution center in Riverside, Calif., Tesco has installed what it says is one of the largest roof-mounted solar arrays in California, said the report. The project illustrates the amount of money it takes to harness energy from the sun: Tesco says the 500,000-square-foot solar-panel system cost $13 million and will provide as much as 25% of the distribution center's power supply. Mason said the solar array probably will take 10 to 12 years to pay for itself with energy savings.

Click here for details on LEED certification.

For CSP Daily News coverage of the convenience store industry's LEED activities, click here.