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United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has received LEED Gold Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its Lancaster, Texas, distribution center. This is the natural and organic products wholesaler’s fourth LEED certification.
The 590,000-square-foot facility began operations in 2010 and was built with a focus on resource and energy conservation. Some of the distribution center’s major sustainability features include the facts that more than 97 percent of all office equipment and appliances in the building are Energy Star-rated; 20 percent of all building materials were made with recycled content; 75 percent of all construction waste materials were properly recycled and/or reused; and energy and lighting power were reduced by of 30 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Additionally, solar panels are being used for two dock levelers; an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient ammonia-based refrigeration system was installed; and water use was reduced by more than 35 percent through the use of motion-activated sensors, flow controls and rainwater recovery cistern.
Further, the facility is strategically located to support customers throughout the Southwest, including Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana. By transferring distribution routes to the Lancaster center, UNFI has been able cut greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions, boost service levels and enhance improve operating efficiencies in serving its Southwest customers.
“UNFI remains focused on sustainability and strives to integrate green strategies into the design of its buildings,” noted Steve Spinner, president and CEO of the Providence, R.I.-based distributor. “[T]his is another example of UNFI’s deep commitment to environmentally friendly and energy-efficient design.”
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system that promotes sustainable building and development practices through a rating system administered by the USGBC, the nation’s top evaluator of environmentally sustainable buildings. UNFI teamed with Atlanta-based ARCO Design/Build Inc. to provide sustainable design and site planning for the distribution center, and Philadelphia-based ReVision Architecture served LEED consultant on the project.
In 2009, UNFI's Ridgefield, Wash., distribution center became the first refrigerated distribution center to garner LEED Gold certification. UNFI also received the gold for its York, Pa., distribution center and silver certification for its Providence corporate headquarters in 2010. During that same year, UNFI received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star rating on its Chesterfield, N.H., distribution center.
UNFI carries and distributes more than 60,000 products to more than 23,000 customer locations throughout the United States and Canada. The wholesaler serves a wide variety of retail formats, including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the foodservice channel.