Making your green clear: Whole Foods and the DOE on marketing sustainability concepts

By James Ranson, Oct 07, 2015, 14:53 2 minute reading

Revered by much of the food retail industry as the company enters a fourth decade of sustainable innovation, Whole Foods Market is a testament to the need not only to implement an effective eco-friendly strategy, but also be able to market it. The DOE’s Better Buildings initiative is helping companies like Whole Foods achieve this.

At the FMI Energy & Store Development Conference the company’s Global Energy Coordinator Aaron Daly took to the stage with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Holly Carr to stress the importance of “Making your green clear: marketing your sustainability concepts,” to lend credibility to claims without “green-washing”.
Daly explained that sustainability and market ‘interdependence’ had been at the very core of Whole Foods’ business since 1985. The company now leads the way when it comes to green business with 12 Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certifications to its name as well as 20 GreenChill certifications, including the most stores using natural refrigerant in the industry.
Daly said the key to effective messaging is driving awareness of the company’s initiatives to all key stakeholders. Whole Foods achieves this through a number of channels:
  • Employees: Green Mission Program, newsletters, training days
  • Customers: In-store signage and displays, community days
  • Partnerships/Initiatives: EPA, DOE, Energy Star, GreenChill, LEED, Green Power Partnership
  • Media relations: To enable sustainable ‘storytelling’
Storytelling essentially involves creating a narrative via all these avenues and initiatives to connect and empower a company’s consumers, employers and stakeholders.
Better Buildings working to validate end users’ sustainability progress
Another validation method benefiting companies like Whole Foods is the DOE’s Better Buildings initiative, which is designed to accelerate private sector investment by making buildings 20% more energy efficient over the course of 10 years from when the initiative was first introduced in 2011.
Better Buildings includes sister programs the Better Buildings Challenge (BTC) and Alliance (BTA), the latter of which includes over 200 members across a whole range of sectors covering 10+ billion square feet of commercial building space. The retail food and grocery sectors account for about 19-20%.
Aside from Whole Foods, food retail members include Costco, Food Lion, Hannaford Bros. Co. and Safeway. Organisations assign a point of contact for DOE activities and outreach and are urged to set an energy reduction goal of 2% per year or greater.
“Partners like Whole Foods are sharing a lot with us – they’re sharing annual data, which is no small task, and sharing their best practices and case studies with us,” the DOE’s Holly Carr said. “What we have to offer back is recognition and media awareness, and those types of things that your communications teams are looking for.”
“Our involvement in the Alliance, but more so in the Challenge, is a way for us to get our messaging about our environmental commitment but also we see it as a brand image opportunity,” Daly said of Whole Foods’ involvement.


By James Ranson

Oct 07, 2015, 14:53

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