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Grocery Co-op Builds Green Store

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Unless you know the correct interstate exit or the local route near downtown Knoxville, you may be missing one of the best-kept secrets in the Southeast.  Rising from the corner of two modest streets in a somewhat revitalized area north of downtown is a structure that rivals any new suburban supermarket.  It’s an uber-green, naturally hued building that looks entirely new, even though it was built over a vacant store.  The city provided bike racks made from reclaimed materials, there is ample parking space, and the site is on a public bus route.  Eventually the lot will be landscaped with native plants.

The Three Rivers Market just opened at its new facility in late summer, with a Grand Opening planned for fall.  Outreach and Marketing Director Katie Ries explains that the building meets guidelines for prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  However, the Community Food Co-op that owns the building chose not to spend the extra fees for obtaining LEED certification.

Three Rivers Market’s new facility uses several energy conservation techniques.  Overhanging roof gables reduce solar heat gain, while rows of windows invite natural light.  Light fixtures in the display cases are all light-emitting diode (LED).  Mechanical systems are automated with energy conservation in mind.  Heat from refrigeration units is captured and reused to preheat water before it goes into the water heater.

In the store’s ceilings are insulating Styrofoam panels between plywood boards.  A smoothly finished concrete floor is easy to keep sparkling clean.  Surface finishes are all low-emitting to protect indoor air quality.  Of course, a system for recycling is in place in coordination with the Knoxville Recycling Coalition.  Compostable materials are picked up buy three local farms, including Beardsley Community Farm.The effort to construct a green building fits in with the Three Rivers Market’s service to the community and promotion of social and environmental responsibility for nearly three decades.

The facility is just a short distance away from its previous location in a cottage-style building.  It’s now at 1100 North Central Street, which you can reach by driving north from downtown Knoxville.  Or you can take the Baxter Avenue exit off I-275 near downtown, because the store is at the intersection of Baxter and North Central. Even if you don’t live or work near downtown like many customers do, it’s worth a visit during your next Knoxville outing.


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