Albertsons and Safeway find innovative ways to go green

Produce section of the Safeway store in Queen Creek features skylights and LED lighting
The newly opened Safeway in Queen Creek has many energy-saving features including skylights for natural daylight, LED lighting, insulation and energy-efficient windows.

Highlights:

  • Albertsons is one of the first companies to participate in the SRP Sustainable Energy Offering program.
  • Investments in LED lighting will reduce electric consumption at eight SRP facilities by approximately 6 million kWh annually. Eight more projects are planned this year.
  • The EPA has recognized Albertsons as a Green Power Partner and Safer Choice Partner for multiple years.
  • Nearly 180 Albertsons and Safeway stores donated 10.7 million pounds of food (equivalent to more than 12.8 million meals) in their Southwest Division last year.
  • To apply or learn more about SRP commercial rebates, visit savewithsrpbiz.com.

Step into any Albertsons or Safeway store in Arizona and you’ll see a lot of green, from the crispy Granny Smith apples in the produce department to the tasty green olives in the canned food aisle.

But it’s not just their exemplary products that are green. Each day, the sun provides green energy to meet a portion of the stores’ energy needs. Look up and you may see energy-efficient lighting shining down on customers as they shop.

At Albertsons Companies — the parent company of Albertsons, Safeway and 18 other supermarket banners across the U.S. — environmental stewardship is paramount. The food and drug retailer is committed to integrating sustainable practices into everyday business. 

“Our corporate commitment to environmental stewardship helps guide improvements in our business operations that reflect the values and concerns of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Shane Dorcheus, EVP Retail Operations & President for the Southwest Division.

Power from the sun

Solar energy is just one way Albertsons and Safeway invest in sustainability. Nine of their Arizona stores have rooftop solar or solar systems on covered parking that produce more than 4 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually. 

When SRP offered a new Sustainable Energy Offering (SEO) to its commercial customers, Albertsons and Safeway jumped at the opportunity. The SEO program provides SRP’s large commercial customers with the opportunity to buy renewable energy at an economical rate and from a dedicated solar plant.

Sharon Kausal, an SRP Strategic Energy Manager, works closely with large commercial customers to provide guidance on energy-efficiency programs and other energy-saving opportunities that can help save money.

“From the beginning, I knew Albertsons and Safeway would be very interested in the Sustainable Energy Offering because it provides our customers with an economical, emission-free and environmentally sound source of energy,” Kausal said. “Albertsons Companies understands the value of investing in clean energy while keeping an eye on the bottom line to keep costs down for their customers.”

Woman and man stand in front of produce at a Safeway store
SRP Strategic Energy Manager Sharon Kausal and Albertsons Companies Energy Manager Thomas Grant visit the Safeway store in Queen Creek.

The company, which operates 42 stores in SRP’s service area, will benefit from solar energy from a power plant that will be built in Coolidge, Ariz.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with SRP and other local businesses on a large-scale renewable energy project that will benefit Arizona communities,” Dorcheus said.

The company expects to complete six more solar systems this year as the cost of solar becomes even more economical. This is in addition to Albertsons Companies’ 43 existing solar-powered systems nationwide.

Lighting the way to the future

As the country’s second-largest food and drug retailer, Albertsons Companies invests to provide the best possible shopping experience for their customers and to support growth in Arizona as well as nationally.

By investing in new lighting and control systems, each store’s electricity usage has been reduced while making the stores brighter. This helps provide a better shopping experience.

Over the past year, Albertsons and Safeway stores in Arizona have leveraged SRP’s energy-efficiency incentive programs to implement lighting projects at eight stores, reducing the electric consumption at those facilities by approximately 6 million kWh annually. There are eight additional projects planned for this year that SRP will incentivize.

The entrance of the Safeway Queen Creek store features LED lighting
A look at the entrance of the Safeway store in Queen Creek featuring energy-efficient LED lighting.

In addition, new construction provides a cost-effective way to start the commitment from the ground up. Many energy-efficiency measures — such as skylights for natural daylight, insulation and energy-efficient windows — are more cost-effective in new construction than in retrofit or remodel work.

“We want to take full advantage of new construction and retrofit opportunities to implement energy-efficient options that will reduce energy expense, deliver a positive impact to the environment and help provide competitive products and services to our customers in a comfortable setting,” Dorcheus said.

Company leaders are always on the lookout for new, innovative ways to mesh sustainability with good business practices.

“We are excited to continue expanding a number of closed-loop recycling programs across the company,” said Darcie Renn, Director of Sustainability, Albertsons Companies. “These innovative projects are giving new life to our organic waste by converting it into energy and fertilizer used to grow the products on our shelves. We are also transforming plastic waste into new products such as bins to transport our food or reusable bags that are sold in our stores.”

It’s not just in the stores

Before the eggs, bread and butter reach the aisles at your local Albertsons or Safeway store, employees are storing and moving thousands of pounds of inventory between distribution centers and stores.

Albertsons Companies has entered into an agreement to purchase 10 all-electric Tesla tractors as part of its ongoing efforts to decrease carbon emissions and run a cleaner transportation program. The electric tractors will be able to travel as far as 500 miles on a single charge, even with a fully loaded trailer, and use less than 2 kWh of energy per mile.

They are also piloting electric yard spotter tractors as well as electric trailer refrigeration units as part of their overall sustainability efforts. These pilot projects will help the company develop a long-term strategy for electrification of operations, which will have a positive impact on the environment.

Albertsons Companies actively promotes the EPA SmartWay certification program for their private and third-party carrier fleets to improve freight transportation efficiency. Currently, 100 percent of their private fleets are EPA SmartWay certified and 92 percent of their third-party carriers are certified.

“Advancing supply chain efficiency and sustainability is an important goal for our company,” said Tom Nartker, Vice President of Transportation, Albertsons Companies. “We’re excited to pilot this expansion of our transportation program with trucks that help us limit our overall carbon footprint.”

By the Numbers

Here’s a look at Albertsons Companies’ efforts to lower energy and fuel consumption and reduce waste across the company:

  • 4 400-kilowatt solar installations added to their renewable energy portfolio last year, bringing the total to 48 sites across the country
  • 200 energy-efficiency projects completed in 164 stores in 2017
  • 800 energy-efficiency projects completed in more than 500 stores and warehouses in 2018
  • $37 million invested over the last two years in LED lighting upgrades, saving more than 122 million kWh, with a plan to invest an additional $40 million in LED improvements this year, saving an additional 130 million kWh
  • Equivalent of 37,500 automobiles’ annual emissions removed thanks to the expected energy reduction from the LED upgrades over the three-year period

Because it’s the right thing to do

As company leaders see it, sustainability is good for everybody — their customers, their employees, their communities and, of course, planet Earth. Albertsons Companies is committed to saving energy and water, reducing waste, recycling, composting, increasing the use of renewable low-carbon energy resources and identifying process improvements that help them protect the environment. 

“We know that there is a direct connection between food and the health of our neighborhoods and environment,” said Jim Donald, President and CEO, Albertsons Companies. “Reducing our carbon footprint and taking a leadership position on safe environmental practices is a top priority.”

Solar panels provide parking shade for customers shopping at Safeway
A solar energy system provides shade for customer parking and green energy for a Safeway store in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Albertsons Companies.

In today’s world, businesses such as Albertsons and Safeway are not just doing the right thing; they’re doing what customers have come to expect.

It’s not uncommon to see customers thanking store managers for the company’s sustainable efforts as well as for the great selection of local food and great customer service.

And the employees also feel a sense of pride. They’re sharing lessons learned from innovative programs piloted across the organization to empower each business discipline to make incremental improvements as part of their sustainability journey.

But it’s not just customers and employees who are noticing. The Environmental Protection Agency has honored Albertsons Companies for their efforts, naming the company a Green Power Partner and Safer Choice Partner for multiple years.

Cutting down on waste and helping the community

Albertsons Companies has found that by implementing sustainability into their everyday mission, they can also help communities in need. One way is to find ways to cut down on food waste.

“Our internal programs are not just about tackling food waste at the source; we’re building a culture of awareness,” said Susan Morris, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Albertsons Companies. “Our teams work hard on inventory management, planning, ordering and receiving practices. We’ve combined these best practices with our Fresh Rescue program to supply quality food to help those in need. It’s a win-win situation.”

Over the years, Albertson Companies has helped feed millions of families via its robust food donation program. Feeding America recently recognized the campaign as a Visionary Partner for the contributions that allow them to feed more people today while finding long-term solutions to address hunger nationally.

“We’re proud of our longstanding partnerships with some of the most respected organizations and worthy causes in the U.S.,” said Christy Duncan Anderson, Executive Director, Albertsons Companies Foundation. “Each day is another opportunity to make a difference — one school, organization and charity at a time.”

In Arizona, Albertsons and Safeway supported more than 300 organizations with $3.5 million in grants in 2018 alone.

It’s no wonder Albertsons and Safeway are Arizona’s favorite local supermarkets.

“Part of our mission to be the favorite local supermarket includes making smart, sustainable decisions that foster better lives, create vibrant neighborhoods and contribute to a healthier planet,” said Bob Miller, Chairman, Albertsons Companies. “We’ve integrated sustainability and community outreach into our everyday business decisions.”

In 2018, Albertsons Companies Foundation efforts nationwide had the following results:

– $43.3 million raised
– 2,000 organizations impacted
– 1,784 families of fallen veterans helped
– 27,372 kids sent to MDA camp
– 69,202 patients with cancer provided access to alternative medicine
– 77 million breakfasts to kids in need through Hunger Is

About Albertsons Companies

Albertsons Companies, Inc. is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, with both a strong local presence and national scale. Albertsons Cos. operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 well-known banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs, as well as meal kit company Plated based in New York City. Albertsons Cos. is committed to helping people across the country live better lives by making a meaningful difference, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Patty Garcia-Likens

Patty Garcia-Likens

Patty works in Media Relations and is a spokesperson for SRP’s environmental and community outreach groups.

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