Sustainability and Bioengineered Foods

The Co-op is committed to doing business in a way that has no negative impact on our environment. We work daily toward having a positive impact to our environment and community.


Ends Policy #4: An enterprise that engages in sustainable and regenerative environmental practices.

For the Co-op, sustainable and regenerative environmental practices refer to our doing business in a way where we have a regenerative impact on our environment.

We work toward a positive impact on the people in our community and the surrounding area. We encourage a regenerative and positive impact on the Whetstone Brook and Connecticut River and the flora and fauna of our natural environment.

We aspire for our food co-op to grow towards a regenerative impact and educate our patrons on the importance of honoring the earth and establishing a viable future for our children. Our environmentally-designed building is a terrific example of our sustainability approach and our focus on a regenerative business. The Co-op’s building is the result of a collaboration with the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont.

The Co-op’s retail space resides on the first floor; the second floor houses our offices, a commissary kitchen, a cooking classroom, a community room, and a conference room. The building also houses 24 apartments owned and managed by the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust.

A few highlights of the green initiatives we embrace are the inclusion of solar panels on the roof, Vermont slate on the exterior of the building, and permeable street pavers outside the store entrance.

The Brattleboro Food Co-op’s building was awarded the 2012 EPA National Award for Smart Growth – Main Street or Corridor Revitalization by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Vermont Green Business Program

We are proud to be recognized by the state of Vermont for being a Vermont Green Business. The Vermont Green Business Program recognizes businesses that demonstrate values that exemplify a sustainability-focused economy.

Waste Stream Stats at the Co-op

Tons of Cardboard
Tons of Compost
Tons of Plastic and Glass
Tons of Paper

Our Green Building

Throughout the assembly process of constructing the building shell, all the details and construction techniques required a high level of attention to sealing the exterior envelope against air infiltration, resulting in a superior, tight, thermally-efficient, high-performance building


The insulation levels are specified with a minimum R-25 at the walls, R-40 roof system, and R-20 at the foundation and slabs.


All windows are triple-glazed with fiberglass frames to minimize heat loss.


There is a green roof over a part of the store, while the rest of the roof has been set up structurally to be retrofitted with a green roof as funds become available. Green roofs reduce the “urban heat island” effect, help cool the building in the summer, and mitigate stormwater runoff by absorbing and slowing roof rainwater.


The building is partially clad in slate siding, a natural, durable, local Vermont product. It has better energy performance than brick and also reduces the structural steel requirements, which is both cost-effective and uses fewer resources and less embedded energy in the production of the steel.


Building finishes were the latest in recycled, natural, durable, and eco-friendly products available on the market.


The floors are polished concrete, a natural, durable, and maintenance-free product that will not require solvent-based cleaners or sealers.


All ceramic tiles in the store are made from 100% recycled products.


All the counter surfaces in the store are made of a solid surfacing product made from 100% recycled paper and locally fabricated in Springfield, VT.


The electrical system and the roof’s structure were set up for the eventual addition of a solar-powered photovoltaic array to produce electricity. This project will eventually come online through a collaborative project with Co-op Power from Greenfield, MA.

The BFC Site Plan

The site plan was designed to reduce negative environmental impacts.

  • A bioretention area in the center island treats storm-water runoff from the parking lot.
  • Overall impervious surfaces have been reduced from their original conditions, reducing runoff.
  • Along the Whetstone Brook is a 20-foot vegetative strip to treat the overland flow of stormwater runoff.

Interested to Get More Information About Our Sustainability and Bioengineered Foods Programs?

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Heat, Cooling, Light, and Electric

The refrigeration equipment within the Co-op’s grocery store has been specified as highly energy efficient. During the winter months, the waste heat is recaptured and recycled to provide space heating for the building, including heat for the tenants of the apartments above. This same waste heat provides all domestic hot water needs for the apartments and the Co-op all year.

Natural daylighting is maximized in the Co-op store and offices with the careful layout of skylights and interior light-reflecting blinds to bring the daylight deep into interior spaces. All artificial light has been designed using state-of-the-art energy-efficient light fixtures requiring minimal watts per square foot to operate and fully light the store after dark.

The various pumps and motors required to operate a grocery store are high-efficiency variable-speed units to cut electrical loads to optimum levels.

Bioengineered Foods

In 2014 Vermont passed a Non-GMO labeling law, but in 2016 Congress passed a law that preempted Vermont’s law. In 2019 and 2020, the USDA released guidelines on how retailers and food producers will label products in the future. This became mandatory compliance in January 2022.

What is Bioengineered Food?

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through specific lab techniques and cannot be created through conventional breeding or found in nature.

Please visit the “List of Bioengineered Foods” page from the USDA website, where you can view downloadable PDF Data Sheets on each item listed and keep up to date with newly designated foods.

The current USDA list of bioengineered conventional crops includes the following 13 foods:

  • Alfalfa
  • Apple - arctic varieties
  • Canola
  • Corn
  • Cotton
  • Eggplant - BARi Bt Begun varieties
  • Papaya - ringspot-virus-resistant varieties
  • Pineapple - pink flesh varieties
  • Potato
  • Salmon - Aqua Advantage®
  • Soybean
  • Squash - Summer
  • Sugarbeet

Bioengineered Foods Facts

Organic does not equal Bioengineered.

  • Products and food labeled with the official USDA ORGANIC seal are NOT bioengineered. Read an “Introduction to Organic Practices” provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Despite widespread familiarity with the terms GMO and Genetically Engineered, the new labels will exclusively use the term Bioengineered to refer to foods that contain genetically modified DNA.
  • Companies are prohibited from using the terms GMO, genetically modified, and genetically engineered on their labels to describe products that do contain genetically modified material. Read “What is a bioengineered food?” provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • More information about GMOs can be found at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration website.

What to look for on the package?

Despite the potential for confusion, USDA offers food companies several ways to legally label bioengineered foods, to be determined at the company’s discretion.

Companies may choose one of the following methods to disclose bioengineering:

  • A Written disclosure on the ingredient panel that says “bioengineered food” or “contains a bioengineered food ingredient.”
  • An icon/symbol which has been designed by the USDA that reads BIOENGINEERED (see image).
  • An electronic or digital disclosure by offering a QR code on the package, which can be scanned using a smartphone and leads to a website address with a written bioengineered food disclosure. This is the least transparent option and unfair to shoppers without a smartphone or reliable internet access to view the bioengineered food disclosure online. In certain circumstances, companies could also use text messages, phone numbers, or web addresses for consumers to inquire about bioengineered disclosures.