Whole Foods Market to Transform San Francisco Store to Zero Net Energy

April 14, 2016

Project funded by $3M California Energy Commission grant will convert an existing grocery store to scalable near-zero net energy — serving as a model for stores throughout the state

San Francisco, CA — The California Energy Commission awarded a $3 million grant to the MarketZero Project — an effort to convert an existing San Francisco Whole Foods Market to Zero Net Energy (ZNE). The MarketZero project targets one of the "final frontiers" in the goal towards a ZNE buildings future — grocery stores — which represent a major challenge for reaching the state's energy efficiency goal of having 50 percent of existing commercial buildings be net-zero by 2030. The project will serve as a major case study for stores throughout the State of California. The four-year project is a partnership of national and regional leaders in advanced building energy systems, and will leverage innovative strategies and technologies to design and implement a world-class building upgrade showcase. The project partners are Whole Foods, Prospect Silicon Valley, SF Environment, Arup and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Whole Foods Market, located at 3950 24th St., will receive the upgrade and Whole Foods Market is providing an added energy investment of $650,000 to support the project. "This project takes our green mission to the next level. We were the first major retailer to offset 100% of our energy use with wind energy credits and some of the world's largest retailers followed the example we've set in green building. We expect this project to have an even deeper impact," says Aaron Daly, Global Energy Coordinator for Whole Foods Market. The project is intended to showcase advanced strategies, including pre-commercial technologies, with Whole Foods making the final decisions on measures to implement.

Specific project benefits include:

  • Lower costs achieved through energy efficiency, demand response/reduction, renewable generation, operations and maintenance measures
  • Greater reliability through demand response and demand/capacity reduction measures
  • Economic development through use of innovative pre-commercial and commercially available technologies, and design and construction methods
  • Environmental benefits from reduced resource consumption, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and building retrofit measures, which will improve indoor air and environmental quality
  • Consumer appeal from improved indoor air and environmental quality, operations and maintenance interventions, customer engagement and behavioral programs
  • Energy security due to reduced energy consumption and on-site renewable generation

Prospect Silicon Valley (ProspectSV) is leading the project, providing strategic management, technology discovery and knowledge transfer activities. "Through our network and expertise supporting innovators in buildings and energy, we will introduce innovative technologies for achieving the project goals and bring the best-practices to the building community," says Rafael Reyes, Deputy Director of ProspectSV.

The San Francisco Department of the Environment will identify policy consideration and facilitate stakeholder engagement. "San Francisco's goals of reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2025 requires a dramatic reduction in energy consumption," said Debbie Raphael, Director San Francisco Department of the Environment. "This project demonstrates what is possible when leaders in the business community join together with the neighborhood and local government to reduce energy waste."

International design firm Arup is the building design lead. "This project is exciting on several levels. As a demonstration project it will show that ZNE grocery stores can be a reality. Real projects are always more powerful than theoretical studies in convincing building owners to move beyond business as usual. As a scalable project it will have the ability to be replicated, not just by Whole Foods, but other grocery companies leading to a sea change in the market," says Alisdair McGregor, Principal and Project Director at Arup. The implementation strategy will be guided by a major analysis done by Arup under the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission. The specific measures selected will be chosen by Arup in direct collaboration with Whole Foods.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) will support the use of computer modeling to select the best improvements to drive down the store's energy consumption. "This project presents a great opportunity to monitor the actual performance of the improvements to the store and flag up any operational problems," says Philip Haves, Staff Scientist in the Building Technology and Urban Systems Division at Berkeley Lab.

Achieving net-zero, consuming as much energy as is produced, will require highly advanced energy efficiency strategies. The project will include measures such as lighting modifications, improved refrigeration techniques, upgrades to kitchen equipment such as fans, vents and refrigeration units, and increasing insulation. Other measures, such as phase change materials for efficiency and load shifting (freezers and refrigeration) may also be considered to bring the store to net zero or very close. The project will include a call for innovations to solicit advanced energy technologies to be considered for the design. The MarketZero project is one of two ZNE projects ProspectSV is leading in San Francisco with CEC support. The second project is a low-income multi-family building located in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood.

About Whole Foods Market®

Founded in 1978 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com, NASDAQ: WFM), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America's first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named "America's Healthiest Grocery Store" by Health magazine. The company's motto, "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet"™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, team member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Thanks to the company's more than 91,000 team members, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America by FORTUNE magazine for 18 consecutive years. In fiscal year 2015, the company had sales of more than $15.4 billion and currently has more than 435 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. For more company news and information, please visit media.wholefoodsmarket.com.

About ProspectSV

ProspectSV is a non-profit urbantech innovation hub focused on solutions for smarter, cleaner cities. We bring government, corporations and academia together with start-ups, product teams and expert staff to accelerate innovations in transportation, energy and the built environment. ProspectSV provides a full spectrum of commercialization support including market and technical insight, connections to partners and investors, pilot opportunities as well as access to a $12 million, 23,000 sq. ft. Technology Demonstration Center with working and industrial space, lab facilities and specialized equipment. In partnership with state and local governments, ProspectSV demonstrates and scales leading edge solutions, resulting in the avoidance of nearly 150 million lbs. of CO2 in the coming decade. With projects in over 50 cities, leveraging over $50 million in funding and financing, and with more than 25 corporate sponsors, ProspectSV is the only organization with the ability to both prove and apply solutions for next generation cities. For more information visit prospectsv.org.

About The San Francisco Department of the Environment

The Department creates visionary policies and innovative programs to improve, enhance, and preserve San Francisco's urban and natural environment, leading the way toward a sustainable future by developing wide-ranging environmental programs, fostering groundbreaking legislation, working collaboratively with key partners, and educating the public on comprehensive sustainability practices. For more information, visit www.sfenvironment.org.

About Arup

Arup is the creative force at the heart of many of the world's most prominent projects in the built environment and across industry. Its engineers and consultants deliver innovative projects across the world. Arup opened its first US office over 25 years ago, and now employs 1,300 in the Americas. The firm was founded in 1946 with an enduring set of values that fosters a distinctive culture, intellectual independence and collaborative approach. The people at Arup are driven to find a better way to deliver better solutions for their clients. For additional information, visit Arup's website at www.arup.com and the online magazine of Arup in the Americas at doggerel.arup.com.

About Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.