The newest location of PCC Natural Markets (PCC), the nation’s largest natural foods retail cooperative, has earned two of the most prestigious certifications awarded to buildings for features and operations that support human and environmental health. The Edmonds PCC is now LEED Platinum and Salmon-Safe certified, and the only grocery store in the nation to have earned both honors.
“Our transformation of a long-vacant building into a showcase of features and systems that protect and conserve natural resources demonstrates PCC’s commitment to operating stores that are as healthy for customers and employees as the products we sell,” said Tracy Wolpert, PCC’s CEO. “We hope that our Edmonds store inspires other retailers to make similar investments in the well-being of the neighborhoods and natural habitats that surround them.”
LEED is the rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) through which the design, construction and operation of buildings are evaluated. Certification is awarded at Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum levels and is based on achievement in each of six environmental categories. The Edmonds PCC opened in September 2008, two years after PCC built the first-ever LEED Gold grocery store in Redmond, Wash.
The Edmonds PCC’s LEED Platinum certification falls under the USGBC’s new pilot program called “LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors.” The category for Redmond PCC’s LEED Gold certification is “LEED for Retail: New Construction.” Virtually all of the features of the Redmond store, including those designed to maximize energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, use of sustainable materials, and optimum air quality, were replicated in the Edmonds location. PCC raised its own bar for eco-friendly features by installing a rainwater harvesting system and two parking lot rain gardens.
Oregon-based Salmon-Safe was founded as a program to help farmers restore salmon streams in the Pacific Northwest and is the only certification program in the country specifically dedicated to protecting water quality and habitat for salmon. In 2004 Stewardship Partners, a Seattle nonprofit which works to improve the quality of Washington watersheds, brought the Salmon-Safe program to Washington State. The program’s initial focus on farm and vineyard certification was expanded in 2007 to include urban properties and was launched by Salmon-Safe’s Seattle-based outreach partner, The Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS). Salmon-Safe’s Puget Sound urban initiative acknowledges that the biggest single factor affecting the Puget Sound ecosystem is the rapid growth of the urban landscape.
PCC’s Edmonds store earned Salmon-Safe certification for its environmentally innovative redesign and development of its three-acre site. Specifically, the location is being recognized for harvesting rooftop rainwater for irrigation and other reuse, incorporating low input landscaping, and for treatment of parking lot runoff through its rain gardens. In this case, Salmon Safe Certification criteria helped contribute to the overall LEED rating points system, demonstrating how the two certifications can work together.