Dr. David Danielson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, toured the Carpinteria Albertsons Monday morning as part of the California Better Buildings Challenge, which aims to reduce energy usage in institutional, industrial, and commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020.
The Carpinteria Albertsons was one of three Californian sites selected to showcase its new energy-efficient designs, alongside a natural sciences lab at UC Irvine and a Marriott Hotel in San Diego. The grocery store, which recently underwent major renovations and upgrades, is expected to cut its annual energy use by 30 percent from its 2010 baseline, saving around $100,000 annually.
Commercial, institutional, and industrial energy use accounts for close to $200 billion in spending per year nationwide. Danielson said the U.S. could save up to $40 billion per year if the Better Buildings Challenge is met. Carpinteria’s supermarket, which utilizes a combination of alternative air conditioning sources and an arsenal of upgrades like LED lighting and sealed doors on refrigerated shelves to conserve power, is one of the the most efficient in the nation.
“Carpinteria is leading the charge in terms of energy efficiency and Albertsons is right there at the head of the pack,” Danielson said.
The Better Buildings Challenge joins over 100 partners together in a collaborative competition to reduce their energy consumption. Together, the participating organizations have committed close to $2 billion to update or redesign a combined 2 billion square feet of space nationwide.
“It’s not one specific kind of building, one part of the economy that can benefit from energy efficiency, but every single commercial building, school building, [and] hospital,” Danielson said.
Albertson’s parent company, Supervalu, is one of the main participants of the Better Buildings Challenge. Rick Crandall, the Director of Environmental Stewardship at Supervalu’s Southern California branch, said energy consumption is the company’s third largest expense. The newly upgraded building, Crandall said, is lit mostly by natural light through a “daylight harvesting” system of skylights during the day, and illuminated by low-heat, high-efficiency LED lighting at other times. Crandall said energy technology is vital for contemporary businesses.
“From a business standpoint, this is the right thing to do,” Crandall said. “Yes, we’ll take the environmental aspects of it, we’ll enjoy that, we’ll promote it, but from a business standpoint, if you’re not investing in these types of technology, you’re going to be losing in the long run.”
Aside from lighting and temperature control, the Carpinteria building does not use plastic bags as part of a citywide ordinance. The store also participates in a food recycling program in which still-consumable but just-expired produce and food is donated to local food banks, and non-consumable produce is composted and resold as fertilizer. An estimated 100,000 pounds of food per Southern California store is donated to local food banks per year.
After congratulating the Supervalu and Albertsons team on their accomplishments, Danielson took in the building’s upgrades, touring the major shelf areas and inspecting the roof’s skylight system and air conditioning generators. The 2012 remodel expanded the Carpinteria Albertsons location to twice its original size, while reducing energy consumption by 30 percent per square foot.