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energy efficiency

  • We continue to become a more efficient and effective distribution company. Maintaining a culture of operational excellence helps us achieve our energy efficiency and carbon reduction ambitions. One of the most logical places to begin was implementing energy efficient practices within our facilities.

How is this better for all?


    Creating safer work environments for our associates by using materials that are far less likely to contain chemicals and pollutants that can be harmful to human health. 


    Lessening our demand on local natural resources and being more mindful of pollution because we believe that communities have a fundamental right to clean air and water.


    Mitigating climate change and contributing to global resource conservation by using energy more efficiently and using precious natural resources more responsibly. 

Our Approach

We’re looking for ways to further optimize our buildings – from the way we light our distribution centers to the way we control the temperature of our warehouses – so we can reduce the amount of energy we use and, in turn, reduce our emissions.  

Recent projects included system updates for motors, fans, lights, and cooling equipment, as well as updates to our protocols and controls to increase our energy efficiency. These projects are partially funded by utilities and energy savings across our distribution centers, which are meaningful when you consider our size and scale. Overall, the energy savings we’ve earned as a result of these projects have helped to reduce our electricity usage and have paid for themselves.


    Over the past few years, our team has assessed of all lighting in our U.S. distribution centers and retrofitted many of them with the latest, state-of-the-art LED lighting, including in some of our Cub Foods’ locations. Cub Foods collectively represents a notable portion of our direct source Scope 1 emissions, so these retail location projects are a big win – they account for the majority of our energy usage, energy efficiency investments, and direct emissions savings from lighting.


    Did you know that LEDs are 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs?



    Each of our distribution centers is unique – with specific purposes and cooling requirements. Looking at just one or two facilities does not give the full picture of the nuance needed to properly manage our refrigeration systems. With the support of external partners, we have been able to gather and aggregate information across our different systems, which helps us make the most informed decisions for improvements and optimization for both food safety and associate safety. While some of the refrigerants we use are ozone-depleting substances, we’re working to transition our refrigerants to non-ozone depleting and alternatives with a lower global warming potential. 

  • Retrofitting our existing operations is an important step, but when we have to construct new distribution centers to accommodate our growth, we’re building them better. We implement LEED® green building program practices to help save energy and water, reduce climate warming emissions, and provide a healthier indoor working environment for our associates. This is a long-term investment – from design, through build, to maintenance – and the benefits are palpable. 

    What is LEED?

    LEED® is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the preeminent program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of high-performance green buildings. A project can achieve one of four certification levels: LEED Certified®, LEED Silver®, LEED Gold®, or LEED Platinum®.

  • As a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SmartWay® Partner, our team stays current on fuel efficiency trends, indicators and statistics.

    Our strategy includes continuing to optimize routes, consolidate stops by organizing deliveries into more full truckloads, use behavioral best practices to minimize the amount of fuel required per delivery, upgrade our equipment, and frequently phase out older trucks to get the most efficient equipment on the road. 

Recent Progress

We are driving energy efficiency for all of our distribution centers and offices through a multi-faceted approach, and in close collaboration with an external partner who inspects and reviews projects during site visits, then issues a report to track and assess our progress. 

U.S. Green Building Council Leed Good USGBC

LEED® Certification

We completed construction on two new distribution centers referencing LEED® guidelines for New Construction and Major Renovations in 2020 with the intent of earning LEED® certification for the projects once completed. Our new Riverside, California distribution center has also been certified as a LEED Gold® facility!

Solar array on top of a UNFI facility

New On-Site Solar Arrays

In 2022, we launched the installation of a roof-mounted solar project at our distribution center in Howell, New Jersey, which is our largest array to date. Once work on Howell is done, we plan to begin construction of a new and larger, solar array at our Riverside, California distribution center.

UNFI tracker trailer with solar panels on top.

All-Electric Yard Trucks

Building off the findings of the feasibility studies we conducted in 2021, we began deploying all-electric yard trucks to move trailers around our distribution center yards in southern California.