Healthy Living Charges Forward
With a stunning metal tree arching over one of Healthy Living’s two electric vehicle charging stations, the installation easily catches visitor’s eyes.
“I want to promote electric cars, and we believe in supporting local artists,” says Eli Lesser-Goldsmith, the owner of Healthy Living, a gourmet health-food store in South Burlington, "so we said, 'Let's take this boring-a@# charger and make it interesting! Let's make a statement.'"
The first charging station installed at Healthy Living, had one level two charger for electric cars installed in 2013 by Green Mountain Power (GMP). That same station now has two ports (allowing two cars to charge at once) in addition to a brand-new Tesla Supercharger station farther behind the store. This station is the first in Northern Vermont and allows free charging of up to 8 Teslas at a time.
Healthy Living was founded 30 years ago as a family business by Goldsmith’s mother, Katy Lesser. Eli and his sister Nina began working there when Eli was only eight years old. The building itself was built to high environmental standards and utilizes high efficiency technologies combined with renewable energy generation.
"So we said, let's take this boring-a@# charger and make it interesting. Let's make a statement.'"
On the roof and side of the building, Healthy Living has a solar array of a little less than 1 kW, which provides part of the electricity needed to power the store. The lighting within the store is all LED and fluorescent, and the store has added insulated doors in the coolers, and efficient fans to save power. “Grocery stores have a heavy pull on the grid [for electricity],” says Goldsmith.
GMP built the first charging station in 2013 (Healthy Living commissioned the art, the work of local sculptor Kat Clear) and installed the panels, which were purchased from Peck Electric. The Tesla Supercharger, a result of a partnership with the Tesla company, was installed in 2016. These charging ports are unique in that only Tesla cars can accept the charge, and the charger can fully charge the Tesla battery in 20-40 minutes. (The more common sort of chargers, level 2 or 3, take several hours to completely charge an empty battery).
Goldsmith explains that the South Burlington station is part of Tesla’s plan to install a “supercharge network” in the US and abroad. Tesla is aiming to eliminate “range anxiety”—where electric vehicle owners become stressed or inconvenienced when they do not know where to charge their cars. Gas stations are ubiquitous, electric vehicle chargers are not. Yet.
“There needs to be more charging stations, that’s the big issue,” Goldsmith says. However, he notes that both the quality and overall usage of electric vehicles continues to improve rapidly. According to the energy.gov, in 2011, 17,763 electric vehicles were sold in the US, in 2015 it was 115,262.
Goldsmith notes that for most of the country, grocery shopping is a car-centric activity, meaning that it relies on fossil fuel use. So the chargers at his store serve as a path to decouple the routine of driving to the supermarket from fossil fuel-based infrastructure. When asked whether he considers the mileage involved in transporting food, he says he “thinks about it all the time,” and is part of the reason is why Healthy Living makes a point of supporting local products.
“Heating, electricity and fuel for transportation—those are the big usages of energy,” he says. In his own life, he tries to reduce his carbon footprint by directly addressing those activities. He recently installed a solar array in his home in Burlington, and insulated his home to reduce his energy use.
“It’s the best way to save energy and money, and the quickest return on investment,” he says, adding that he is “excited” for the first winter with his new insulation.
No matter the temperature, he is thrilled to have the solar and the charging systems at Healthy Living.
“Most people go grocery shopping with a car… I can say to my customers that I’m promoting a shopping experience that isn’t just based on SUVs. I want to promote electric cars.”
...about Healthy Living’s sustainable initiatives at healthylivingmarket.com
...about Kat Clear’s sculptures at katclear.com
... about electric vehicles at cheatsheet.com/automobiles