EPA Falls Behind in Push for Green

September 17, 2007
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The use of CO2 as a refrigerant is one of the approaches to supermarket refrigeration being factored into the GreenChill program of the EPA.


In the year since the Environmental Protection Agency announced its GreenChill program to encourage the refrigeration industry to voluntarily go beyond just regulatory compliance in dealing with environmental issues, a number of supermarket chains have already signed onto the effort - even though the program has yet to be officially launched.

As of mid-August, at least five chains - Food Lion, Hannaford Bros., Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, and Publix - were reported to have signed on. Their efforts will focus on four areas:

• Establish a refrigerant inventory and set emission reduction targets;

• Only use ozone-friendly alternatives (no CFCs or HCFCs) and advanced refrigeration technologies in all new and remodeled stores;

• Collaborate across the industry to identify service and operational practices that reduce emissions; and

• Participate in an industry-government research initiative to assess the performance of green technologies in terms of energy efficiency, reduction of refrigerant charge, and minimization of refrigerant leaks.

GreenChill was first announced in September 2006 at the Food Marketing Energy and Technical Services Conference in Litchfield Park, Ariz., as a partnership with the “EPA, supermarkets, and chemical and refrigeration manufacturers.”

As of mid-August 2007 the program had not yet officially been launched, according to Roxanne Smith, a press officer with the EPA. “It is expected to be launched sometime in the fall,” she said.

But that has not stopped the supermarket chains from signing on. In fact, virtually all had been committed to refrigerant alternatives, new refrigeration technologies, and emission reductions for a number of years before the GreenChill announcement.

Earlier this year, Food Lion LLC officials took part in a signing ceremony to signify its participation in GreenChill. The ceremony in Montpelier, Vt., also included a demonstration of a refrigeration technology that showcased the use of CO2 as a refrigerant.

For the store in Montpelier, Food Lion worked with HillPhoenix, an equipment manufacturer, to develop a low-temperature refrigeration system that reduces the amount of fluorine refrigerants such as HFCs by also using CO2, a naturally occurring gas. A byproduct is the reduction in copper since the portions of systems with CO2 do not require copper piping.

The chain also worked with HillPhoenix to develop a system for a store in Dinwiddie, Va., which uses water and glycol along with HFCs to create cooling for the medium temperature refrigeration equipment.

Both stores use HillPhoenix’s Second Nature®, which is a secondary loop technology and one of two options being considered by the supermarket industry in lieu of the more traditional direct expansion.

MORE TECHNOLOGIES

Another technology is called ‘distributed’ and has a number of mechanical refrigeration systems throughout a store instead of a large parallel rack system located in the rear of a store.

As of mid-summer, the EPA said it is not favoring one option over the other. “Part of the reason for GreenChill is to voluntarily collect data on the different technologies and compare them so everyone can determine which works best for them financially and for us environmentally,” Dave Godwin, EPA environmental protection specialist, was quoted as saying. “We are open to both types and others.”

In statistics compiled during the summer, it was indicated that two supermarkets were using secondary loops in low temperature applications and about 300 stores were using the approach in medium temperature applications.

Distributed technology was also showing growth. Officials of Emerson Climate Technology said about 4 percent of new refrigeration systems in 2001 used distributed technology compared to 15 percent in 2006. Emerson officials predicted the percentage would jump to 50 percent in 2011.

During the Montpelier ceremony, Jeff Cohen, who manages the EPA’s Alternatives and Emissions Reductions program, said, “We congratulate Food Lion and HillPhoenix for creating this cutting-edge supermarket. This store and the Food Lion’s store in Dinwiddie, Va., are the showcases for the next generation of refrigeration technology.

“We also are pleased by Food Lion’s decision to join the GreenChill partnership and continue its role as an industry leader in environmental sustainability initiatives,” he said.

Representatives of HillPhoenix and Food Lion noted how their efforts fit the GreenChill concept. ”HillPhoenix desires to produce the most energy-efficient, environmentally friendly refrigeration products in the industry,” said Scott Martin, director of sustainable technologies for HillPhoenix.”

“Food Lion believes that a critical aspect of serving our customers is to be a responsible corporate citizen,” said Glenn Dixon, Food Lion LLC’s senior vice president for corporate development. “We take great pride in undertaking initiatives such as these, which will protect the environment and sustain the communities in which we operate for years to come.”

The EPA said that widespread adoption of “best practices, improved equipment design and service, and advanced refrigeration technologies” could reduce refrigeration emissions by 1 million metric tons of carbon equivalent per year, which is equivalent to taking 800,000 automobiles off the road and save over $12 million in operating expenses.

Publication date: 09/17/2007

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