Giant Eagle: This Grocery Store does More Than Whet the Appetite

The smells are enticing—the aroma of ripe tomatoes and shiny apples mingling with freshly-baked breads and cakes . . .  Even though you just ate, your stomach is already growling . . .

The recently renovated Giant Eagle located in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh is much the same as many other grocery stores, yet, oh, so different.

While customers may notice the atypical outdoor bike racks and the attached condominium tower, they may not perceive the store’s green features, such as skylights, windows, air quality sensors, or the fact that Steel City Biofuels reuses the cooking oil from Giant Eagle’s kitchen as an alternative energy source.  “This is not a departure from what we’ve been doing,” says jim lampl, director of conservation at Giant Eagle.  “Some of the elements at this store are simply more visible.  Overall, we hope it culminates in a wonderful shopping experience for our customers.”

By using green standards for its design, this store hopes to be the second Giant Eagle to become LEED-certified, as the first supermarket in the nation to receive that designation was the Brunswick Giant Eagle near Cleveland.  The goal at the Shadyside store is to obtain the premier LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors) certification for a grocery store in the United States.  A large part of this plan was the implementation of an energy modeling process that allowed Giant Eagle to simulate how various design strategies would affect energy efficiency.  According to a study by Gregory H. Katz (“Green Building Costs and Financial Benefits,” 2003), total financial benefits of green buildings surpass their average initial investment for design and construction ten times over.  The study also states that energy savings alone exceed the average increased cost associated with building green.

“Most everything we promote and work to incorporate has a payback of some sort,” said Marc Mondor, principal of evolve EA, the architectural firm engaged to green this Giant Eagle, “but the returns on investment vary in how long they might take.”

This store is packed with strategies aimed at saving energy, including a lighting system linked to skylights that dim fluorescent bulbs in relation to natural lighting.  Overall, it boasts about 20% greater energy efficiency than the ASHRAE (American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers) 90.1-1999 energy standard.

Structurally, the building contains sustainably-harvested FSC wood and a significant amount of recycled content, such as fly-ash in the concrete and drywall made from coal plant waste.  Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) finishes have been applied throughout and the concrete slab floors have been machine finished, rather than tiled over.  Also, visible only to neighbors above, is a planted green roof, the largest in Pittsburgh.  An emerging component of green construction in North America, these types of roofs have a history spanning back decades in Europe.  The 12,300-square-foot vegetated roof atop Giant Eagle is being used as a local example of nationwide research to monitor water, temperature, weather and solar absorption.  The study, led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering and funded by the 3 Rivers Wet Weather Demonstration Program and the Environmental Protection Agency, will determine the benefits of this roof specific to the Pittsburgh region.

Creating an enjoyable shopping experience for customers is Giant Eagle’s mission and by promoting daylit, chemical-free, healthier buildings, the company is taking that promise further than other retailers. Their environmental commitment is reflected through their leadership and continued adoption of green building principles.  As you leave the Shadyside Giant Eagle, you will surely agree that the store and its Market District banner is “new and improved”—but, if you pay close attention, you will also see it as a cutting-edge green supermarket.

See more details on the Shadyside Giant Eagle here.  

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