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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Piggly Wiggly expands, scores high for energy efficiency

From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The heat-producing bulbs are gone from the freezers at Olsen's Piggly Wiggly. And the natural gas furnace isn't getting used much.

These are two of the ways the expanded Cedarburg grocery store scored the highest of any of nine other supermarkets across Wisconsin that are participating in the Wisconsin Green Grocer program.

Store co-owner Ryan Olsen said he and his family saw the opportunity to become more energy efficient as they pursued a remodeling project that increased the size of their store by one-third, to 43,000 square feet.

"With energy prices forever climbing, it just made sense for us to (make an) investment now to reap the rewards of not having as high energy consumption later on," he said.

As a result, the store's energy bills are about the same, or slightly more than before, but the store has grown by 11,000 square feet and has six more full-time and 10 more part-time workers.

"This is an example of how we can create jobs and grow our economy but keep our energy use about the same," said Brett Hulsey, an environmental consultant who worked with the grocers association on its initiative. Hulsey is also a Democratic state Assembly representative from Madison.

Some changes can be small - like giving shoppers the ability to recycle plastic bags - but others can be much more extensive.

"They're heating almost all the building with reclaimed heat from their compressors," Hulsey said. "That was the first time I'd seen that."

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