- With consumers prioritizing environmental sustainability, Amazon and Target unveiled stores that aim to use less energy than they produce, the retailers announced last week. Target's first net-zero energy store is located in Vista, California, and the new Amazon Fresh store, which is pursuing net-zero carbon certification, is located in Seattle.
- The new Amazon Fresh Seattle location features a CO2-based refrigeration system, has steel byproducts to reduce embodied carbon and fully sources its electricity from the company's renewable energy projects. Target's store has solar carports, CO2 refrigeration and LED lighting.
- Drawing from its experience, Target said it plans to add CO2 refrigeration to all of its stores by 2040. Amazon said that some of the upgrades will be used at all of its Amazon Fresh grocery stores going forward, such as the lower-carbon concrete flooring.
The announcements by Target and Amazon underscore the importance stores play in grocers' sustainability efforts as they get closer to their set deadlines for specific targets. Both Target and Amazon have pledged to run their companies in a more environmentally sustainable manner — a commitment that could appeal to eco-conscious consumers.
Target's Vista store, which it called its “most sustainable store to date,” features 3,420 solar panels on its roof and carport canopies and is expected to generate up to a 10% energy surplus annually. It will serve as a testing site for innovations that will inform future store design. "This store is truly a test kitchen for some of the features that can help us as we work toward our larger goal of 100% renewable electricity," Rachel Swanson, lead solar program manager at Target, said in a statement.
Target has also engaged with other environmental goals. For instance, the company committed to making all of its private label products "designed for a circular future" by 2040. To do so, the retailer said it plans to use more recyclable, durable and sustainably sourced materials.
Earlier this month, the retailer said it would display its Target Zero logo on various personal care, beauty and household items that are designed to be refillable, reusable or compostable, made from recycled materials or from materials that reduce the need for plastic. Outside of this concept, Target is also currently installing LED lights across its store fleet, adding electric vehicle charging stations to more than 150 locations, and introducing recycling and composting programs.
Meanwhile, the 35,000 square-foot Amazon Fresh store, which is the retailer's 26th for the grocery banner and fourth in the greater Seattle area, has more than a dozen upgrades and features to achieve net-zero carbon status, including a refrigeration system that cuts carbon emissions by 38 metric tons annually. The store offers electric vehicle charging for free to customers.
Amazon will use an internal system created by Amazon Web Services' Professional Services Sustainability Practice to track its Seattle store's environmental impact. The company also said that customers will be able to shop from a variety of environmentally-friendly products ranging from household cleaning and beauty products to plant-based food brands.
"We know many customers are prioritizing sustainability in what products they buy and where they choose to shop," Stephenie Landry, vice president of Amazon Grocery, said in a statement. "With our newest Amazon Fresh store, we are taking the next step on our path to becoming a net-zero carbon business by 2040, and we welcome customers to experience this firsthand while shopping with us in this store."
Amazon noted in a blog post that "some upgrades will be used at all of our Amazon Fresh grocery stores moving forward, such as lower-carbon concrete flooring, which will help to reduce our embodied carbon."
Both retailers said they are seeking certifications from the International Future Living Institute, a nonprofit focused on sustainable building practices. Target is seeking net-zero-energy certification for the Vista store, while Amazon is pursuing zero-carbon certification for the Seattle store.
Amazon said that in order to obtain the certification it's seeking, a building must be energy efficient, have all electricity provided by renewable energy, demonstrate a reduction in the embodied carbon of building materials, and prove that all carbon emissions associated with manufacturing and construction processes have been neutralized. IFLI then reviews 12 consecutive months of performance data to establish that a store meets these standards.
Catherine Douglas Moran contributed reporting.