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Clean Air Works for these Businesses

More and more businesses are realizing that cleaning up the air helps their employees breathe easier and also improves profits.

Two grocery store chains in Rowan and Cabarrus ń Food Lion and Harris Teeter — have joined a Charlotte-based project called ěClean Air Works!î to help fight air pollution. Carolinas HealthCare System, which includes Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast in Concord, is also a member as is the Cabarrus Chamber of Commerce.

ěClean Air Works!î now has 113 business members. Its most recent data reveal impressive commute-related successes. Employees in the member companies have made serious reductions in their number of commutes through carpooling, vanpooling and mass transit.

More than 120,000 trips totaling 1.7 million miles have been taken off the road. That means a reduction of 2,500 pounds of nitrogen oxides, which cause air pollution.

Saving energy is another way they help clean up the air because the less energy they use, the less power plants have to produce, so plant emissions decrease.

Food Lionís initiatives cut 45 billion BTUs from its energy program in 2008 and reduced carbon emissions by more than 18 million pounds. Thatís the equivalent of planting more than 4,000 acres of trees, powering more than 1,300 American homes for one year or taking nearly 3,000 cars off the road.

Food Lion, which has 19 stores in Rowan and Cabarrus counties, has made a significant commitment to save energy.
In fact, half of its 1,300 stores bear the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyís ENERGYSTAR label for superior energy efficiency. About 335 of the stores are located in North Carolina.

The Salisbury-based grocery store chain does everything from capturing the heat expelled from the motors of its refrigeration cases and using it to warm the cold-food aisles to retrofitting lighting fixtures and bulbs to increase a storeís lighting efficiency.

To earn an ENERGYSTAR rating, commercial buildings must use an average of 40 percent less energy than typical buildings and release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Harris Teeter, which has 186 stores, five of which are in Rowan and Cabarrus, has launched a company-wide MyEarth Initiative and a Sustainability Task Force to guide its stores toward more environmentally friendly practices.

The corporation offers incentives ń like cafeteria discounts and gas cards as raffle prizes — for its employees to carpool and even helps them find carpool partners. It supports locally grown produce, which reduces the amount of fuel needed to transport the fruits and vegetables to the store. Low-energy fluorescent lighting in its two distribution centers has reduced the centersí energy usage by 10 percent.

Harris Teeterís extensive tractor-trailer fleet abides by an anti-idling policy as do vendors delivering goods to the stores. The companyís backhaul practice means that trucks rarely run empty on the road.

Deliveries are also scheduled to maintain fuel efficiency and reduce the length of time the trucks must travel.

New and recently remodeled Harris Teeter stores use high-efficiency, non-ozone depleting equipment. For example, freezer cases use LED lighting and energy-efficient water heaters use heat reclaimed form the refrigeration system. The company recently opened its first LEED-certified store.
Two others are in the works.

Carolinas HealthCare System encourages the use of the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and offers a carpool matching system. Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast will begin participating in this program later in the year, says Dana Voss, the corporationís manager of employee recognition.


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