KT 'Kwik' to Go Green

Wisconsin retailer leads the way in environmentally friendly c-store design

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- The many environmentally friendly design elements of newer Kwik Trip convenience stores aren’t always entirely obvious, but that’s okay.

"Many of our guests probably don't even see the initiatives that have been taken,” David Ring, community relations coordinator for the La Crosse, Wis.-based company, told Wisbusiness.com, “but we believe they and the community as a whole are benefiting from them."

Roughly half of the convenience stores in the country that have qualified for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council are owned and operated by Kwik Trip.

The company has constructed 12 such stores and has 14 more in the planning stages. Changes to existing stores to make them more energy efficient also are on-going.

"There's certainly a balanced approach," Ring said. "What makes sense for the environment, and is it cost effective?"

Leah Nicklaus Berlin, development coordinator for Kwik Trip, said most of the green initiatives have payback periods of five years or less. "Anything under five years is a no-brainer," she said.

Initiatives are across the operations of the chain, following the vertically integrated structure of the company as a whole. Low-energy lighting, low-flow toilets and sinks and more efficient motors for coolers and other machinery in the stores cut energy use and save money, according to the report.

Most of these efforts are planned to go into most, if not all, Kwik Trip stores, and there are more than 400 of those and counting. In Iowa, Kwik Trip operates as Kwik Star.

Car wash

Kwik Trip has started to recapture water from its car washes and reuse it through a reverse-osmosis process. That, along with the changes in sinks and toilets, could save 4.7 million gallons of water a year. "That's the equivalent of washing 87,000 cars or filling 316 backyard swimming pools," Ring said.


LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has already shown savings. Canopy lights in new stores save about $3,946 per year. Changes to coolers and freezers are saving $375,291 per year across the stores.

Energy management systems

Berlin said energy management systems, which can be monitored from the La Crosse headquarters, are being installed in many stores. "That allows a monitoring of energy efficiency throughout the company," she said.

Other initiatives include skylights and additional windows for day lighting, heat-recovery water heaters, refrigeration-waste heat recovery, using more concrete than asphalt in lots to allow for less lighting and heat, and recycling efforts.

Berlin said making new stores energy efficient might add as much as 10% to building costs, but the payback more than makes up for that extra cost.

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