Grocery Store Produces Fresh Food and Harvests Water in Ville St. Laurent, Quebec

Sourced from the Living Architecture Monitor

It’s just 44 steps up to the roof from Richard Duchemin’s office in his family-run IGA on Henri-Bourassa Boulevard West in Saint Laurent, Quebec.  

Those 44 steps lead him to the retail food store’s food producing green roof – a first on a food store roof in Quebec and still a rare application for food production in North America.

In 2014, the city of Saint-Laurent (part of Greater Montreal) passed a requirement for all new construction to have at minimum, 50 per cent vegetation coverage on the roof, a key component of Ville Saint-Laurent’s climate change adaptation strategy, to help lower greenhouse gases and provide much needed greenery.

At the time, while others might see this policy as a problem, Richard Duchemin and his two brothers Daniel and Jean saw an opportunity.  The IGA store, started by their father Normand in 1984, was already well known for its innovative approach to marketing food to its customers.  In 1988, they were the first food store in Quebec to display fresh produce at the front of the store; the first supermarket to roast coffee beans in 1996; and in 1996, the first supermarket to include a fresh fish display with over 100 feet of counter and ice.

After several store renovations and a 30 per cent expansion in the mid-1990s, the Duchemin’s knew their business could sustain a larger building.  They set out to build a green building, which would reflect their personal commitment to sustainability.  In 2016, the Duchemins finished construction on their 25,000 square foot supermarket and the building attained LEED Silver certification. 

The Duchemins used the expertise of La ligne verte: Toit vert – a Montreal-based firm – who worked with Richard closely for over a year to design, construct and implement the green roof which was incorporated into the design when the building was open in 2016.  As it was a new building, the green roof consultants ensured that there was sufficient loading capacity to support the kind of green roof plants that Richard envisioned offering his customers in the store.  La ligne verte:Toit vert also ensured the roof is fully accessible with a safety railing.

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