How green is a green supermarket?

So Tesco decided to go green in the Czech Republic. Their pilot project opened on February 10th in the small town of Jaromer. On first look, the result is pretty impressive. Instead of the classic prefabricated construction, you get a wooden structure. Furthermore, the owner claims the supermarket will have a zero carbon footprint. It should also be self sufficient with its own power and heat generators running on a “renewable source” – coleseed oil. The roof has been covered with solar panels. Rainwater is treated and used for cleaning the floors, flushing etc. Simply said anything you would look for in an ordinary “green building” can be found here.

Leaving aside discussion on the efficiency of burning coleseed oil, a few questions still come to my mind: How will the goods be supplied? Where do these goods actually come from? The answers are fairly simple: convoys of lorries will bring in the goods on daily basis from the centrally managed depots, with a significant proportion originating outside of the country, in many cases even outside of the EU. But this is not uncommon: it’s where supermarkets generate most of their carbon footprint – the transport.

Please don’t mistake me: the Jaromer ‘green’ Tesco is definitely a positive step, especially in comparison with other similar developments here in the Czech Republic. Let’s only hope that it is the first step towards the green future and a new benchmark for all other developers. Not only would the carbon footprint of our shopping be slightly smaller, but our eyes would be spared the ubiquitous grey boxes which have popped-up across the country over the last fifteen years – something we would no doubt all welcome.