Amazon’s new Fresh store in Seattle is an experiment in sustainability

Amazon has incorporated a number of new features and upgrades into its newest Fresh grocery store in Seattle in a bid to secure net-zero carbon certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). One of the first upgrades shoppers will notice when they visit is the free electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lots. Inside, the changes aren’t as visible. The store uses CO2-based refrigerant instead of artificial refrigerant, which Amazon says reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 38 metric tons per year.

Its floor looks like standard concrete, but it actually uses recycled materials from the steel industries. Amazon says doing so reduced the store’s carbon footprint more than any of its other initiatives and lowered the carbon associated with floor manufacturing and installation by 40 percent compared to standard concrete. 

In the kitchen, everything has been electrified. The store is equipped with electric water heaters, electric burners and electric ovens. And, of course, the store is fully powered by renewable energy from Amazon’s projects as part of its efforts towards relying entirely on renewable sources of electricity by 2025. Amazon expects all those changes and measures to save the store nearly 185 tons of CO2e, or Carbon dioxide equivalent, each year. That’s apparently comparable to driving around our planet 18 times in a standard passenger vehicle.

The company will be measuring the real-time impact of all those changes and features using a system built by Amazon Web Services. It plans to apply what it learns from this project into future locations and buildings, so we may see more net-zero carbon Fresh groceries pop up. Seeing as it also recently shifted its retail strategy to focus on groceries, that’s a big possibility.

Kara Hurst, vice president of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon, said in a statement:

“In order to deliver on our commitments to The Climate Pledge, we must work together across all areas of our business to develop solutions to decarbonize. It’s meaningful progress to open our latest Amazon Fresh Store seeking net-zero carbon certification, and I’m proud of the innovation and technology that the store offers to customers and employees, and for the environment.”

Amazon’s Climate Pledge initiative aims to eliminate the company’s carbon emissions by 2040, and this is one of the avenues it’s exploring in order to achieve that goal. Two years ago, the e-commerce giant also committed $2 billion to companies developing clean energy technology as part the initiative, including firms developing EV charging solutions and alternative fuel. 

The ILFI will be reviewing the Seattle Fresh grocery’s performance data for 12 consecutive months to ensure that the store meets its standards. If the location passes muster, it will be first grocery store to achieve net-zero carbon certification for this particular organization, though it won’t be the first in the world.

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