Sustainability is relevant to everything we do at The Merc Co+op. From the products we source to the organizations we support to our recycling program, concern for our environment and our community is always top of mind. We partner with nearly three dozen local growers, champion organic in every department, and provide a space for community growth in both our classroom as well as the Growing Food Growing Health Student Gardens. See how your co-op is working towards making our planet a healthier place.
April 2018 Update
Here Comes The Sun
The month of April marks one year since announcing the co-op’s plan to go solar. It’s exciting to know that this important work is almost complete!
This June, your co-op will begin Phase 3 of our solar installation. Cromwell Solar will install two solar-covered carports on the south side of our parking lot. Comprised of 288 solar panels mounted on steel beams, the two carports will offer 32 spaces with partial protection from the elements and shade from the hot summer sun. In addition, a solar-powered car charging station will be added for shopper’s use.
The carports themselves will be constructed in phases beginning with the placement of concrete footings. The building of the steel structures, then the installation of the racks and solar panels will follow. The final phase will include electrical wiring and inspections.
“We realize that construction isn’t always fun, but we’re counting on you - our owners and shoppers - to come by, check out the progress and be a part of this transformational project,” Rita York Hennecke, General Manager said. “Soon, you’ll be shopping Lawrence’s only solar-powered grocery store!”
March 2018 Update
As of March 28, our 384 rooftop solar panels have gone live. Inspection passed, inverters paired and system is on and producing solar energy. These panels are producing approximately 17% of the co-op's energy. When the project is complete, 29% of the co-op's energy will come from solar. Read below for more information.
The Merc Co+op is Going Solar
Solar Installation Phases
Updated September 26, 2017
This October, Cromwell Solar will begin the first phase of what will be our city’s largest solar installation. In phase one, we will install 380 of the 688 total solar panels. First, we will install the rooftop solar panels; then, we will begin constructing the white oak, solar-panelled pergola over our dining patio.
Due to an unfortunate time crunch with permits, we have elected to complete this project in two phases. Construction on the two parking lot carports with electric vehicle charging stations will begin in the summer of 2018.
“This project is unique and full of a lot of firsts,” Rita York Hennecke, General Manager said. “With a more complex approval process, we experienced delays.”
Your co-op had hoped to complete this project within the year. However, it felt irresponsible to begin construction on the carports in November and have that work run into the winter season. With up to 32 spaces affected, we could not risk making our parking lot inconvenient during the holiday season and difficult to navigate in the event of inclement weather.
“Our owners care deeply about sustainability and reversing climate change,” York Hennecke said. “Your patronage of the co-op, and the vocal support and enthusiasm we have received about this project reflects that. Renewable energy is vital and it is possible for local businesses.”
With the completion of phase one, by the end of 2017, the co-op will begin generating 17% of its energy from the sun.
Locally Crafted Patio Pergola
The patio pergola is a beautiful combination of traditional and future technologies. It will hold 16 of the 688 solar panels and offer diners partial shade and an up close view of solar. Handcrafted in Missouri and milled from Kansas trees, it will be constructed from White Oak - an excellent material as it requires little maintenance and ages well, darkening over time. The building method utilizes timber frame construction, an old world framing method that is extremely strong and uses no metal fasteners. With this construction, hand-cut mortis and tenon joints are made to very large White Oak timbers. The structure is built off-site, then reassembled on-site, where the joints are pinned together with wood dowels. As the wood dries, the joints shrink and tighten, creating a long-lasting, natural structure.
The Merc Co+op is Going Solar
Announced April 2017
COMMUNITY-OWNED GROCERY STORE TO INSTALL 200 KW OF SOLAR ENERGY
This fall, The Merc Co+op will embark on what will be Lawrence’s largest solar energy project to date. Through a full rooftop array, two solar covered carports and a solar covered patio, the community-owned grocery store will install 688 high performance solar panels to provide 29% of their energy each year.
This project allows the co-op to harness our most reliable and sustainable renewable energy resource: the sun. The store’s roof will house the majority of the panels. Comprised of solar panels mounted on steel beams, the two solar covered carports will offer 32 spaces with partial protection from the elements and shade from the hot summer sun. An electric vehicle charging station will be installed for shopper’s use. And, a solar covered patio will offer partial shade for outdoor diners. All together the panels will produce 297,690 Kilowatt hours energy each year, enough to power 22 homes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the co-op installing solar?
The two greatest opportunities to improve our environmental impact are through a reduction of energy consumption and a transition to renewable energy. Due to the continuous operation of refrigeration systems, grocery stores consume significant amounts of energy. With the cost of conventional energy increasing by 7-10% each year, the need to reduce consumption is more important than ever.
What are the benefits to the co-op?
The co-op will offset 29% of our energy thereby avoiding 16.5 million pounds of pollution* and save us $1.8 million in energy costs.* In addition, the solar carports will be an incredibly distinctive addition to the Hillcrest Shopping Center and to the Lawrence community as a whole, which we hope will attract attention to the store and to the importance of environmental sustainability.