Buy Your Green Vegetables in a Green Building

Mississippi Market on Randolph Avenue, Exterior

Existing Store on Randolph Avenue

Co-operative groceries are enjoying unprecedented growth these days. For Liz McMann, Education Manager at the Mississippi Market in St. Paul, Minnesota, the reason is simple. She says, “People want to know where food comes from and that you can trust it.”

For the Mississippi Market, sustainability has been at the core of their mission since their start in 1979. When they planned to expand, it wasn’t a stretch to decide to build to a green standard. Even though they decided not to apply for LEED status—they’d rather sink their resources into the building itself—their new building is up to the LEED Gold level.

Rendition of the New Store

Rendition of the New Store

Sustainability started with the site, which is a brownfield, remediated with help from the city of St. Paul and the Metropolitan Council. The site is accessible by bus, bike, or foot. They’re encouraging their employees to get to work on their own muscle power by including a shower in the store to clean up after a commute.

They’re installing a stormwater diversion system that will send runoff from the parking lot to water their raingarden. And they’re putting on a white roof to mitigate the heat island effect.

Like all groceries, Mississippi Market’s energy demands are heavy on refrigeration and lighting. A highly efficient HVAC system helps with one, and energy-saving lights—T8 lights for the retail areas and LED lighting for the freezers, coolers and the exterior—with the other. The new store will also take advantage of daylight, with eleven skylights equipped with on-off sensors. Overall, the new building is projected to use 42% less energy than a building of comparable size.

The building materials are sustainable, and recycling and reuse figure prominently. 75% of the construction waste is being recycled. The building’s concrete has flyash content—20% for the interior and 40% for the exterior. They’re putting concrete sealed flooring (no waxing required) in the store and non-slip epoxy in the deli. They bought some of their fixtures from the Seward Co-op across the river in Minneapolis, which built a new grocery last year, and they’re refurbishing those for a new life in St. Paul.

As they designed the new building, they made sure that the roof could handle the load of solar panels, if they decide to install them in the future. Even if they don’t, the Market already has a commitment to solar power. One of their current sites, the Selby Market, hosts one of the only solar-powered Hour Cars.

The design team wanted space for events that build community. One design criterion was to expand the deli within the store and to make it more of a community restaurant. Another was to provide parking for classes and events. The Market educates members on healthy eating, holistic medicine, and a perennial favorite, on raising chickens in the city.

Mississippi Market holds an annual energy challenge to remind employees to reduce their use of energy. Last year, their goal was a 3% reduction. Next year, in the new building, the bar will be set higher. To a Gold standard.

Images used with permission of the Mississippi Market.


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