How Amazon's and Target’s Net-Zero Ambitions Stack Up

Both retailers embark on a mission to create more energy-efficient stores
Amazon Fresh net-zero store
Photograph courtesy of Amazon

As Target completes the finishing touches on its net-zero energy store in Vista, Calif., Amazon is looking to become the first grocery store to receive net-zero carbon certification from the International Living Future Institute for its recently opened Amazon Fresh location at 13201 Aurora Ave. N in Seattle.

The 35,000-square-foot store, which is the 26th Amazon Fresh location in the country, features more than a dozen store-design upgrades that the Seattle-based company said will save nearly 185 tons of CO2 each year when compared with an industry-standard grocery store. Among those upgrades:

  • Free electric-vehicle charging stations for customers.
  • Low-carbon concrete flooring to reduce emissions.
  • Electric kitchens and hot water heaters to remove the need for fossil fuel combustion within the store.
  • Added doors to most refrigeration cases to reduce energy consumption.
  • A central CO2-based refrigeration system that reduces carbon emission contributions from leakage by 38 metric tons per year.

Some upgrades, such as lower-carbon concrete flooring, will be used at all Amazon Fresh grocery stores moving forward, Amazon said.

“We are constantly thinking about what we can do to make the customer shopping experience easier, more seamless, and more sustainable,” said Stephenie Landry, VP of Amazon grocery. “We know many customers are prioritizing sustainability in what products they buy and where they choose to shop. 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.”

The store is an important milestone in meeting Amazon’s Climate Pledge, which Amazon co-founded in 2019 with Global Optimism and calls on signatories to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040—10 years ahead of the goal established in the Paris Agreement. Shoppers at the Seattle store will also be able to shop a variety of Climate Pledge-friendly products in-store, ranging from grocery items to household cleaning and beauty products. Recently launched Fresh Plant-Based products, including dairy and meat alternatives, are also available.

Similarly, Minneapolis-based Target, through its Target Forward sustainability strategy, aims to attain net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across all stores and facilities by 2040, and said that since 2017, it has reduced direct operations’ emissions by almost 27%.

And like the Seattle Amazon Fresh store, Target’s net-zero location in Vista will use CO2-based refrigeration, which Target will roll out chainwide by 2040. The store also places a heavy emphasis on solar power, with 3,420 solar panels on the roof and new carport canopies that Target said will produce up to 10% energy surplus. The store’s HVAC heating will also be powered by the rooftop solar panels and not natural gas.

"We've been working for years at Target to shift toward sourcing more renewable energy and further reducing our carbon footprint, and our Vista store's retrofit is the next step in our sustainability journey and a glimpse of the future we're working toward," said John Conlin, SVP of properties for Target. "Our new stores and remodel programs are designed to help achieve our sustainability goals as we test, learn and scale our innovations over time across our operations."



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