New Leaf Community Markets recently recertified all of their Santa Cruz County stores as Green Businesses. New Leaf is proud to be the first grocer in the county to be certified as a Green Business. They continue to push the envelope by finding additional ways to improve their operations and service to the community to make them even more sustainable and eco-friendly.
The Santa Cruz County’s Green Business Certification Program was designed to encourage businesses to meet and exceed environmental standards, while conserving natural resources. Every year, the County Board of Supervisors recognizes those businesses that have gone above and beyond to meet the criteria to become a certified Green Business.
In addition to meeting all of the county’s Green Business requirements in HVAC, lighting, energy, recycling, environmental-friendly practices and water use, among other requirements, New Leaf is a Certified B Corporation. B Corps are for-profit companies, certified by the nonprofit B Lab, that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. To consistently meet the stringent certification standards, New Leaf tracks their impact on food waste, water usage, supplier sustainability, and other areas that affect environmental performance.
“We’re always looking for new ways to engage our staff and community in how to be more environmentally aware,” said Greg Weaver, New Leaf facilities director. “It takes team work and conscious effort to reduce our use of resources. We plan on building green teams at our stores to keep employees educated and always thinking about new ways to improve sustainability,” he added.
Chris Krohn, one of New Leaf’s facilities technicians, serves as the company’s Green Business Certification lead. Krohn recently completed numerous updates to improve electrical energy efficiency. For example, the lighting at the Capitola 41st Avenue location was retrofitted with LEDs to replace lower efficiency florescent bulbs. Fortunately, many New Leaf locations were built using T8 florescent bulbs that are already high in efficiency, but every store is receiving upgrades on an individual basis.
Another area where New Leaf has made improvements in resource conservation is water usage. Low-flow sprayers in dishwashing rooms have cut water use by two-thirds, and low-flow toilets and sink aerators been installed in all New Leaf stores.
New Leaf is also taking steps to reduce energy lost in heating and cooling systems by installing new doors on multi-shelf refrigerated cases. “These doors not only eliminate wasted refrigeration while it competes against the store’s heating system, they also help to extend the life of the case because it doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain temperature,” explained Krohn.
Another exciting conservation effort that New Leaf is leading is a food scrap composting program to keep food scraps out of the landfill. New Leaf is exploring a partnership with the City of Capitola to educate customers and staff on composting, and create a collection location within the store. “Signage at the waste receptacles will be important to help educate customers as to what goes into which bin to avoid confusion,” said Weaver.
New Leaf’s commitment to being green goes well beyond conserving resources within its facilities; their commitment is carried out through their mission of giving back to the community as well. During April New Leaf will kick off another year of their Envirotoken program, a pioneering initiative launched in 1993. This program has not only raised over $543,289 for local non-profits working to support the environment, it has saved close to 9,000 trees as a result of customers reusing bags over 6 million times. (Customers receive tokens worth 10 cents for each grocery bag they reuse, and then drop the tokens in the box of the nonprofit of their choice as they exit.) New Leaf was the first retailer on the Central Coast to introduce this kind of program, and since then many other retailers in the county and across the country have followed suit.