PCC Ballard becomes world’s first ‘Living Building’ grocery store

PCC in Ballard has become the first “Living Building” grocery store* in the world.

PCC’s Ballard location was built to meet the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge Petal Certification, which is the world’s most rigorous green building standard, PCC announced in a statement.

“For decades, PCC has worked to build sustainable and organic food systems so that we could sell food with less harmful chemicals in our stores. Through our partnership with ILFI, we were able to reduce the harmful chemicals in our stores themselves,” Brenna Davis, PCC’s VP of Social and Environmental Responsibility, said.

“In our pursuit of the Petals, we built a stunning store with sustainably sourced and less toxic building materials; energy-efficient systems that lower climate impact; and beautiful public art with the sole intent of celebrating the Ballard neighborhood.”

The Petal Certification is broken down into a few main categories: Materials, Place, and Beauty.

The Materials Petal is about building with safe materials—that means eliminating “Red List” building chemicals considered to have the greatest negative impact to humans and the ecosystem. For example, the conveyer belts at the checkstands are made with a urethane/polyester belt alternative to the commonly used polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a Red List substance deemed harmful to human and environmental health.

The Place Petal is about protecting existing ecosystems: the ILFI’s Habitat Exchange Program was established to help conserve thriving ecosystems, and PCC donated funds to the program to protect an area of land equivalent to the Ballard PCC building footprint. The funds will protect land half the size of a professional football field.

PCC earned the Beauty Petal for its local art, partnering with Seattle illustrator and artist Kyler Martz to make the store unique. Martz created an entryway installation featuring a 16-foot-tall octopus and underwater-themed mural. Only non-Red List materials were used for the art installation, and Martz used reclaimed materials when possible: the octopus’ tentacles are made from 448 used ramekins from a local restaurant supply store.

Along with green construction, PCC in Ballard has water conservation methods and sustainable refrigeration to reduce their ongoing environmental impact.

Both the West Seattle and Bellevue PCC locations are working toward the Petal Certification. PCC says their new locations in Downtown Seattle, Kirkland, and Madison Valley will also seek the Living Building designation.

*Editorial correction for clarification

Photo: PCC