SKOWHEGAN — Time to make the bales.

That was the rallying cry Friday at the Hannaford supermarket in Skowhegan as employees demonstrated the store’s cardboard bailing machine, part of the “green” program being recognized by the United States Green Building Council.

Hannaford officials were on hand Friday to celebrate the store’s designation by the council as the first retail building in Maine to achieve leadership in environmental and energy design in an existing store.

A new Hannaford in Augusta and another in Vermont have been designated green too, but as newly constructed buildings.

Each bale of cardboard that comes out of the Skowhegan recycling machine weighs 750 pounds and is shipped to a recycling company in South Portland. The cardboard later is ground back into pulp to make more cardboard and paper.

Just another reason for the company’s green designation, assistant store manager Jon Poirier said.

“It’s about doing the right thing and getting money for it,” Poirier said.

In 2011, Hannaford recycled about 46,000 tons of cardboard as part of the company’s recycling program. The recognized green program also includes a heat exchange system from food freezers to heat the store, plastic recycling and food waste composting.

The Skowhegan store, built in 1995, is the first example in Maine of a store being retrofitted to comply with new energy and environmental standards, central district manager Bernie Ouellette said.

“Saving energy and reducing waste is good for the planet and good for Hannaford as a business,” Ouellette said Friday. “We hope this certification encourages others to pursue sustainable building solutions.”

Paul Duperrie, energy manager for Hannaford, said it took several months to turn the Skowhegan store into a “green grocer” location. He said the program was developed in each of the store’s departments, using purchasing methods and disposal methods to stay environmentally responsible.

“The existing-building program is all about how we operate and maintain the store,” Duperrie told a large group of company managers and associates Friday morning. “It’s about how we clean the store, how we use energy in the store, how we recycle waste in the store. You build it in a good environmental friendly manner, now lets operate for its lifetime in a good environmental friendly manner as well.”

George Parmenter, manager of sustainability for Hannaford, said energy management at the Skowhegan store involves cleaning the store with environmentally safe chemicals and landscaping and grounds maintenance in a way that’s safe for the environment.

Parmenter said a typical supermarket recycles approximately 40 percent of its waste — the Skowhegan store recycles more than 80 percent of its generated waste.

“That’s exciting for a couple of reasons — one is that we’re really doing a great thing by acting responsibly doing our part for the environment,” Parmenter said. “The other thing is there’s real return to the business for that activity and the company’s 179 stores. There’s a really cool two-for there.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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