When we build a store, we try to recycle or reuse buildings and/or building materials wherever possible. There were fewer opportunities to do this at our Calgary site than at our other stores. But where this store really shines eco-wise is not its construction, but its operation.
By minimizing floor and ceiling coverings, we reduce both material consumption and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from materials and adhesives. Most of the floors are simple burnished concrete, while the paints used in this building's construction are free of VOCs.
The store is located in a dense, central urban area that is easily accessible by bus, C-train, and bike. And by providing covered bike parking, we encourage our members to pedal to the store. Some truly committed members (and staff) ride year-round.
To allow as much natural light as possible to enter the building, we have energy efficient double-paned windows. Where we do use lights, we use energy efficient T8 fluorescent tubes for space lighting, with T5 and metal halide spots for accent lighting.
To increase energy savings, the insulation in this store is above the standard called for in the Model National Energy Code. The store's heating system is a traditional rooftop gas forced air unit type, but it is 20% more energy efficient than a standard system from the same period and the refrigerant system is CFC-free.
We recycle and compost to divert waste from the landfill. In 2009, we diverted 93% of our waste. This represents 86 metric tonnes of material and is just above the 90% target we set for the year.
Depending on how electricity is generated, it can be a very clean or very dirty source of power. Most electricity in Alberta is produced by coal-fired plants, a particularly eco-unfriendly method. In fact, if we ran the Calgary store on standard Alberta electricity, it would be responsible for nearly 38% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) output from all our MEC stores, even though it's only one of 14 stores we operate across Canada.
Instead, 100% of the electricity used at the store is generated by wind turbines thanks to the purchase of Wind Power Certificates from The Pembina Institute. For all the electricity we use at the store, an off-setting amount is fed into the public grid from a wind turbine farm. This has transformed the Calgary store from one of our grimmest to one of our greenest in terms of the environmental impact of its power consumption. By using wind farm electricity, we keep 699 tonnes of GHGs out of the atmosphere every year.
We hope the environmental initiatives used in our buildings inspire others. Greener electricity is one of the easiest to adopt. It's available to any business or individual, with no installations or building modifications required. It does cost slightly more, but there is the option of buying Wind Power Certificates for some or all of a building's consumption. The total monthly cost difference for a typical home is less than a few upscale coffees, and the GHG reductions are considerable.
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