By Hope O’Shaughnessy
The Littleton Food Co-op (LFC) held a groundbreaking ceremony this August to herald their store’s 9,500 square foot building expansion. The store’s General Manager Ed King explained in a recent news release that, “The five year goals of the project are to increase our annual sales by more than $4 million, increase local purchases to $3 million annually and create 30 new jobs.”
Also central to the vision for the $3.3 million project is a drive toward energy efficiency. By combining expertise with synergy with the co-op board, the new expansion will provide added warmth and vision to the community. Essential to that effort is the engagement of GBA Architecture and Planning of Montpelier, VT as the architect of choice. GBA Architecture and Planning designed expansions of two other Vermont food co-ops: Montpelier’s Hunger Mountain and the Brattleboro Food Co-op. Trumbull-Nelson is the general contractor on the project.
The energy efficiency solutions are numerous throughout the new addition and pavilion, according to Diantha Korzun, AIA LEED AP at GBA. The building has a very good thermal envelope with a roof that is R60 while the walls are R40 and the floors R20. The roofs are built from structural insulated panels. The high roof is a cold roof with a thermoplastic roofing membrane, and the low roofs are standing seam metal cold roofs. The standing seam roof allows for easy installation of the photovoltaic panels that were designed for the new addition and pavilion.
Since the LFC has a well-insulated thermal envelope, mechanical systems could be reduced in size because of the reduced loads. The co-op solved the high energy usage issue of freezer and cooler cases by providing highly efficient fixtures inside. The store also has a FreeAire refrigeration system for mechanical needs.
“Our lighting designer, Jim Stockman, and electrical engineer, Tim Gaston from Yeaton Associates, provided beautiful and very energy-efficient LED fixtures for both the interior and exterior of the store,” Korzun explained. The fixtures are strategically placed to provide enough light without giving off excess. Even vehicular transportation is taken into account, and the store will have multiple electric vehicle charging stations.
The new teaching kitchen and a thirty seat combined indoor and outdoor cafe will provide opportunities to gather in community. Retail and receiving areas will expand while current off-site administrative offices will be brought into the expanded space. The design includes porches with both ample display space and places to gather. The extended outdoor living space is embellished with permanent outdoor benches for sitting, plantings and green space.
The co-op and its membership were key to the process of developing a vision for the new construction. The goal according to Korzun, who was part of the process, was to better reflect the values of the co-op and its members in the new space. One of the key themes was a new focus with the community room and cafe, which was designed to have a warm glow especially at night and will welcome people into the store.
The development of the final plans included an exploratory process of working with the co-op’s board to create the final design and include important input. “It’s a fantastic creative process of discovery, and it gets everyone invested in the design of the building. In the end, the final design ends up being a place special to the client, not a space that could be anywhere in America,” Korzun said.
A recent statement from LFC Board Members Tom Southworth and Marni Hoyle, also sums up the contribution of this new construction. “The result will be a store that uses less energy, saves operating costs, and contributes to the sustainability of the environment. As members and shoppers, we can be proud of our co-op for its energy conscience, alongside all the other contributions the co-op makes to the local food community and the economy of our region.”
Southworth’s and Hoyle’s announcement goes on to add “As part of the expansion, rigorous energy systems analysis will be undertaken for both the old and new buildings to find ways to improve lighting and heat recovery, optimize building tightness and ventilation, and tune the efficiency of the systems that properly store our food. Many of the energy-saving opportunities will be immediately implemented as part of the expansion; others will follow as part of a comprehensive long-term plan.”
The Littleton Food Co-op will stay open during the seven-month construction. For more information, please visit www.littletoncoop.com.
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