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Building a Low-Impact Grocery Store: A Blog Series

We’re ALMOST done the construction and build-out of Nada (!!) and are taking some time to reflect on the journey. This construction process has been incredibly educational for us all, as we have strived to build the store with as little impact as we know how. We learned a lot and that’s why we’re creating a little blog series sharing some of our lessons from the buildout – and who we partnered with – in hopes that it will inspire some of you out there who may be starting a project, or just want to know what cool alternatives exist for low-impact building! Stay tuned as we release more episodes over the next two weeks!

Our Challenge

Many of you have seen the “before” pic during our crowdfunding launch party or at one of our pre-construction pop-ups, but did you know that that space was only half the story? Our new space was actually two former units that we’re turning into one grocery store (plus an in-house cafe). Here’s what we were working with, with a few snaps of the space before and during demolition.

To create the new space, we had to tear down the dividing wall, put up new walls around what will be our storage area, and update the plumbing and electrical work for the new use. We then needed to build display units throughout and outfit the store with equipment and new(-to-us) fixtures.

Although we’ve never done a build-out before, we went into this process with a lot of concern about the waste that would be created in the construction process. In most cases, homes and businesses  that are being constructed are made of perfectly good materials – but these are demolished together and sent to landfill rather than being sorted and reused! Especially in the context of Vancouver, where homes are being built (and demolished) at insane rates, this worries us, and we wanted to do our best in making sure our own deconstruction didn’t add more to the problem (linked article features our very own General Contractor, Adam Corneil!).

Our Approach: Reuse, reuse, reuse

In every decision – from who to partner with to what sort of equipment we should purchase for our store – we are firm believers that the most sustainable option is usually the one that comes from following the 5 R’s (that’s Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot!). While we definitely thought about all of them at some point in the process, our journey let us to focus on the third R: Reuse.

So our construction decision process usually went something like this:

  1. Do we need it? Are we sure we need it?
  2. Do we already have it?
  3. Is someone giving it away?
  4. Can we purchase it second-hand?
  5. What about pre-loved? Or reclaimed?
  6. OK, are we sure we’ve exhausted all of our options for finding it second-hand?
  7. OK fine, fine, fine. If we really have to buy it new, what can we do to make this the best purchase possible?

These questions were the guiding points for our construction decision process, and they’re also the guiding points for this blog! Each day, we’ll share a story answering one of these questions and, as you’ll see, in most cases we were able to find the right solution far before we had to contemplate question 7!

You ready? Stay tuned for our next post tomorrow!!
[Post has been edited to include links to all of the blog posts – click on the questions to see!]