This article was originally published in Green Retail Decisions on October 3, 2013. View the original article here.

The Grocery Stewardship Certification (GSC) expanded beyond its pilot stage recently with the addition of new stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The GSC is the nation’s only grocery sustainability certification program and recognizes stores for reducing energy consumption, water use, food waste and other related measures. The point-based certification, developed by Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, lasts for two years.

A pilot version of the project was launched in late 2012 with Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets. So far, 37 Hannaford stores in five states have received final certification. More than 80 additional stores are working toward certification.

“The grocery sector increasingly recognizes the importance of sustainability and they’re excited that Manomet has developed a tool to make it a reality,” said GSC Program Manager Peter Cooke. “There is a lot of interest and a lot of momentum and we’re excited to expand the program.”

In Maine, the program has recently added the Rising Tide Community Market in Damariscotta, and Lois’ Natural Marketplace in Scarborough. GSC staff certified the Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene, N.H., in late August.

“Participating in the Grocery Stewardship Certification program not only made us feel good about the measures that we are already taking toward being sustainable, but also gave us concrete steps that we can take to improve our footprint,” said Elsa Kevin, a manager at Rising Tide. “We are proud to display our certification on the front door and let our customers know that we care.”

A Whole Foods Market in Cambridge, Mass., was also certified this summer as part of a pilot for that company’s New England region.

For more than 40 years, the Manomet Center has used science and partnerships to build a more sustainable world. The Center is a non-profit research organization headquartered in Massachusetts with scientists working across North and South America.