Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Posted by Andrew Anderson on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 @ 02:22 PM

BlogPhoto-2019_Reducing-Carbon-FootprintThe Viroqua Food Co+op is a leader in environmental sustainability for our city and county, and with our newly expanded facility we incorporated three new sustainable technologies to contribute to the environmental sustainability of our greater community.

Solar Photovoltaic Power

Through the support of our Class C investors, incentives through Focus on Energy, and engineering as well as installation by our local Ethos Green Power, we have finally accomplished our long-held dream of having solar panels! We installed our impressive 132 panel photovoltaic array and turned it on November 8, 2018.

The solar panels save about 62,500 kilowatt hours per year and cover approximately 14% of the Co-op’s total electric use. As part of the project we receive real time system performance updates that you can view via our solar kiosk located at our customer service desk. To date our solar array has saved 28,582 pounds of CO2 emissions, the equivalency of planting 720 trees! Come and see for yourself.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Our partners at Ethos Green Power also supported us in choosing our first electric vehicle (EV) charging station. We dedicated two parking stalls on the north east end of our parking lot for our EV customers. The charging station allows for two simultaneous, unhindered 50 amp charges using the standard J-1772 plug. Tesla owners need to provide their own adapter. Electricity currently costs approximately $0.11 per kWh, and at an average charge of 24 kWH to travel 70 miles, each charge costs the Co-op about $2.64. Driving an average EV on the road in the US produces the same greenhouse gas emissions as a car getting 80 miles per gallon! As America accelerates the closing of coal plants, which predominately produce the power for charging stations, driving on electricity will only get cleaner. Currently, charging is free to our EV customers, with the request that they donate an item to our in-store food pantry donation box.

Visit and search our location for more information on our EV station!

Porous Asphalt

You may have noticed on the middle and north end of our parking lot two strips of asphalt, set apart from the rest of our concrete. This isn’t every day, run-of-the-mill asphalt. With our expansion, we continued to seek opportunities to improve our local environment by installing porous asphalt. Porous asphalt catches precipitation and surface runoff, storing it in an underground stone reservoir. allowing the water to slowly infiltrate the soil below.

Impervious pavements like traditional concrete and asphalt contribute to flooding, erosion of our stream channels, diminished recharging of groundwater and can transport pollutants through our waterways. The EPA considers porous pavements, like VFC’s, a Best Management Practice for the management of stormwater runoff. In addition, in our cold weather environment studies have shown that due to the nature of these materials it can trap air and store heat, promoting the melting and thawing of snow and ice, reducing the amount salt routinely applied by as much as 25%!

These three new elements, along with our long standing approach to recycling, bulk purchasing, introduction of compostable packaging, and of course promoting organic agriculture, are some of the ways your Co-op is working hard to lead by example and promote a work of enduring value.

Tags: Sustainability, VFC Solar Power Project, Reducing Carbon Footprint, EV Charging Station