Stewardship Certification Program Brings Sustainability to Grocery Stores


Grocery stores are the most electricity-intensive type of commercial building. Multiple Better Buildings partners—including Hannaford, Food Lion, Giant Eagle, and Whole Foods Market—are implementing sustainable operating practices through participation in a Grocery Stewardship Certification (GSC) program. The GSC was launched in 2012 by the nonprofit organization Manomet and was the first-of-its kind program was designed to help grocery stores reduce their environmental footprint through continuous improvement and employee engagement. Over 900 grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada have enrolled in the GSC framework. In December 2020, the program was taken over by Ratio Institute, an independent nonprofit working with food retailers and trade organizations to accelerate measurable sustainability and viability in the food retail industry.

GSC program participants identify and implement low-cost operational improvements in the areas of energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and more. Better Buildings grocery partners are applying the stewardship program’s tools to further support their commitments to reducing their energy use portfolio-wide. For example, Whole Foods Market incentivized employees to engage in operational sustainability strategies and increased energy-efficient equipment in stores while participating in the program. Hannaford, a founding member of the GSC, has certified 100% of its stores under the program.

Participating companies receive a store-by-store analysis of employee engagement in sustainable practices, allowing them to quantify the monetary value of existing sustainability efforts chain-wide. Additionally, the tools provided by GSC teach participants about other no-cost or low-cost operational opportunities to save money and resources and generate revenue. These program tools provide consistency and accountability at the store-level for operational sustainability procedures that reduce waste and costs.

There are six steps to certification under the Grocery Stewardship Certification program:

  1. Complete the GSC’s online Sustainability Workbook for grocery retailers
  2. Gain points and recognition for existing innovative sustainable practices and activities
  3. Achieve certification by scoring above the point threshold
  4. Inform, train, and educate all associates involved in the areas of Energy Efficiency, Chemical Usage, Storm Water Impacts, Waste Reduction, Employee Engagement, and Water Conservation
  5. Receive and review final report and data analysis of the company’s sustainability strengths and weaknesses
  6. Work with GSC program staff on further assessments, public relations activities, training, additional improvements, benchmarking, and more


DOE/Better Buildings does not officially endorse the Grocery Stewardship Certification program.

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Engaging employees, occupants, and customers, Building expertise within my organization, Motivating my organization, Acquiring expertise outside of my organization

Tool type:

Performance Scorecard

Building Type:

Grocery store