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CVS Health Goes Platinum


On the site of a former gas station in West Haven, Connecticut, CVS Health has unveiled its most environmentally progressive and energy-efficient store so far.

For starters, the LEED Platinum-certified drug store boasts daylighting, a landscape design that doesn’t require irrigation, super-efficient HVAC units and LED-lit coolers that light up when approached. (Platinum is the highest distinction in the LEED program.)

“Our long-term green building goal is to take successful green building elements from our West Haven store and incorporate them into our future prototype design,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior VP, corporate communications & community relations, CVS Health.

The 7,800-store chain, Boone added, has already “completed thousands of energy-saving projects, including LED lighting retrofits at 566 existing stores and distribution centers in 2013. She said evaluating data on resource efficiencies and cost savings has become an ongoing endeavor throughout the company.

While costs to build the West Haven store were higher, the tradeoff comes in on-going energy savings and increases in customer satisfaction, which “can drive traffic into the store,” Boone pointed out. This is CVS’ eighth LEED store, but its first to reach Platinum level. Certification opportunities for other CVS units is being done on a site-by-site basis.

UNIQUE FEATURES: The project began on a site with contaminated soil.

“Not only did remediation help revitalize this area of West Haven, but it also makes this piece of land safer for future generations,” said Boone.

The building’s materials were selected to minimize environmental impact, such as use of recycled material (27%) and sourcing locally where possible (33%). Additionally, 73% of new wood used in the project came from sustainably harvested forests.

The use of high-efficiency plumbing fixtures is cutting water usage up to 50% compared with a standard store of comparable size. The toilets use one gallon per flush compared with a typical home unit using 1.6 gallons, and the men’s room has a urinal for additional savings.

More than 60 rooftop solar panels and an array of daylighting features, including daylight and occupancy sensors, sun shades, translucent panels, window blinds, light shelves and skylights, combine to cut energy usage by 40%.

The new HVAC units are “extremely efficient,” said Boone. “These units combined with the high R-value insulation in the walls and roof help to maintain heating and cooling inside the building.”

The store also has reduced its irrigation water usage from the typical 450,000 gallons annually to zero.

“Outside the store we planted hardy drought-tolerant landscaping like trees, scrubs and flowers that are native to Connecticut, which eliminates the need for an irrigation system on site,” said Boone.

All the resulting utility cost savings will go back into the store’s operating profit.

To encourage community participation, the store provides recycling bins, carpool parking spots, bike racks and an electrical car-charging station. To create awareness, there is a LEED Platinum plaque on the store facade and a brochure on the store’s unique features.

“When you walk through the store, you see lights turn on when you approach coolers and turn off when you leave, and you see natural light coming through the windows and skylights — it’s almost like a smart store,” said Boone.

Employees find working here enjoyable, added Boone. “One employee provided this feedback, ‘We love all of this natural light; it certainly brightens up our workday, and our customers seem to really like it too.’ ”

Based on positive results in West Haven, CVS has already decided to incorporate LED lighting for coolers, LED exterior site lighting, LED building lighting, LED ground signs and a single lane drive-through canopy in all new stores.

CORPORATE EFFORT: CVS’ sustainability strategy is driven by its Executive Environmental Management Council, comprised of senior-level corporate executives representing all business units of the company, and advises the CEO on the program, explained Boone.

In addition, the chain has a Sustainability Leadership Council, which meets quarterly, and an Energy Technology Assessment Committee, a cross-functional team that monitors initiatives and stays on top of trends. The Sustainability Committee, a group within ETAC, focuses on recycling and lighting and tracks performance.

Laura Klepacki is a contributing editor of CSA.

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