Whether building green, offering alternative fuels and/or revving up recycling, many c-store retailers are cleaning up their communities. Here are some of the most notable industry “greenovators.”
Kwik Trip Inc.
It’s full steam ahead for this LaCrosse, Wis.-based chain, a pioneer in retailing compressed natural gas (CNG). Joel Hirschboeck, alternative fuels superintendent for Kwik Trip, says the company is ready to add eight to 10 more CNG fueling sites to its 439-store network in 2014 after finishing 2013 with 26 total locations.
“We started looking at it holistically from a commercial-fuels perspective, where it makes sense,” he says. “We want to cover our operating footprint with the right locations to make sense for fleet activity. What are we focused on for 2014? Where are the gaps in coverage? Where do we expand the footprint a little and get improvement in coverage?
“It’s an extremely exciting industry to be a part of: late-breaking news about new technology, advancements, fleets converting over, who’s getting into the business.”
This West Des Moines, Iowa-based operator of 427 sites is known as a leader in LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly building standard. The chain has committed to building all new sites as candidates for LEED certification, with 66 certified locations so far and 16 under construction. Seven of the sites are gold LEED certified, the second-highest level achievable, with 34 certified silver.
According to Adam Hammes, Kum & Go sustainability manager, such green initiatives are “all about playing a positive role in the community. It’s part of the brand and who we are. We are committed tobeing a good neighbor.”
Beyond LEED, Kum & Go is expanding its alternative-fuels offer with two CNG sites in 2014 and is evaluating locations for Level III electric-vehicle charging stations.
“I want to be where I can make a difference,” Hammes says. “The best way to make a change is [to provide] an example to follow.”
Other Notable ‘Greenovators’:
- Thorntons Inc. Besides being a longtime retailer of E85, this Louisville, Ky.-based Top 101 chain is a past winner of CSP’s Environmental Stewardship award thanks to its LED canopy and cooler lighting, recycling receptacles and green cleaning products.
- United Oil Co. In 2012, this Gardena, Calif.-based c-store operator and fuel distributor for Valero, ConocoPhillips and Shell installed solar panels on the canopy of its Cerritos, Calif., site. The Panasonic HIT Double panels are expected to supply 75% of the store and pumps’ annual energy demand.