One sector where CO2 is making the strongest inroads in the United States is in supermarkets as more stores and refrigeration manufacturers embrace its use.

Two recent examples are stores in Pennsylvania and Iowa. One is in a small community in a rural area; the other is in a large metropolitan area.

Pennsylvania Approach

Four generations after the Kinsley family opened its first grocery store in the 1950s, the small community of Brodheadsville, Pa., (pop. 1,800) is becoming home to one of the greenest, most energy-efficient independent supermarkets in the U.S.

With construction of their new store — the nation’s largest ShopRite — the Kinsleys nearly doubled their square footage as they hoped to achieve several objectives with the new store:

• Expand their footprint and merchandising capabilities,

• Provide a space for community gatherings, and

• Have more energy-efficient, sustainable refrigeration and power systems.

The Kinsleys tapped HillPhoenix and Pennsylvania-based AMF Refrigerated Products Co. to design a turnkey store development plan that included the use of natural refrigerants, state-of-the-art walk-ins, energy-efficient power systems, Coolgenix meat and seafood display cases, and HillPhoenix display and specialty cases.

From design to implementation, the manufacturer’s multidisciplinary teams collaborated across divisions to create and implement the solutions. The Kinsleys used the resources of every HillPhoenix division for their new store: display cases, barker specialty, refrigeration systems, power systems, and walk-ins.

Presented with the opportunity to design a brand-new store from the ground up, Chris Kinsley Sr., vice president and general manager for ShopRite Brodheadsville, made energy efficiency and sustainability a top priority.

“Energy efficiency and maintenance were top considerations. As for the green technologies you’ll find in our store, that’s just the right thing to do,” said Kinsley.

The store was built to meet EPA GreenChill Gold standards for sustainable refrigeration. GreenChill Gold Award certification requires that a store use only non-ozone-depleting refrigerants. It must also achieve an average HFC refrigerant charge of no more than 1.25 pounds of refrigerant per 1,000 Btuh.

HillPhoenix offers an array of natural and traditional refrigerant-based systems including glycol, CO2 and traditional hydrofluorocarbons. ShopRite Brodheadsville chose a Second Nature® MTLT2 system that combines a medium-temperature secondary coolant system using glycol and a low-temp CO2 secondary system.

The store’s seafood department features Coolgenix display cases. By eliminating the use of convection heat transfer, Coolgenix enhances product integrity and safety, according to the manufacturer. The company said that evaporation caused by airflow in convection cases can cause product to dry out, while Coolgenix minimizes condensation and frost build-up within the case.

Coolgenix cases are also suited for storage as well as display. Display cases can be left stocked overnight, eliminating the need for daily loading and unloading of cases. The Coolgenix secondary cooling system also utilizes less refrigerant charge, shorter pipeline runs, and lower pressure systems, the company said.

On the power systems side, the store will benefit from quantifiable savings in the areas of cost, time and space by choosing an integrated power system configuration, the company said.

On average, HillPhoenix customers realize a 10-15 percent reduction in the cost of the electrical distribution installation, 5-10 percent reduction in the critical path schedule and 20 percent reduction in the space necessary to install the electrical distribution equipment, the company said.

Among other technologies was a custom Clearvoyant light rod design to provide consistent and complete light distribution throughout the display fixture, eliminating dark spots and delivering 15 percent more lumens per watt than competitive systems.

In addition, Climate Keeper enhances HVAC efficiency by creating neutral airflow within the store, ensuring that little or no unwanted air enters the store through loading docks and entrances, and it prevents treated air from leaving the store.

Regarding walk-ins, the store sought improved hinges, handles, seamless jam guards, and LED lighting. HilllPhoenix proprietary hinges lift the door by ¾-inch, putting less stress on the door components and creating a gravitational force that prevents doors from being left open. Improved door sweeps prevent damage to exterior floors, and ergonomically enhanced door handles make it easier for associates to get in and out. Seamless jam guards feature hidden fasteners that eliminate friction and potential snags.

Iowa System

For the project in Urbandale, Iowa, in the Des Moines metro area, Hy-Vee contacted Hussmann and asked the manufacturer to come with innovative and environmentally conscious equipment.

Hussmann’s TerraChill CO2 refrigeration system met the requirements, according to store officials. The system uses pumped liquid CO2 as a secondary cooling media and a smaller amount of HFC-404A as its primary refrigerant. By utilizing a natural refrigerant, the TerraChill reduces the HFC charge and lowers Hy-Vee’s carbon footprint.

The total HFC charge of the TerraChill CO2 system installed in the store is 2000 pounds versus the approximately 6000-pound charge normally required for a compatible new store using a central direct expansion system.

According to proponents, CO2 is an efficient refrigerant for both low-temperature and medium-temperature applications. It is not corrosive and will not freeze when operating at low temperatures, making it an ideal choice for a full range of temperature applications.

“Low-temp CO2 systems are gaining in popularity,” said Jon Scanlan, director of refrigeration and energy management for Hy-Vee. “Medium-temp CO2 systems are some you don’t see as often. We spent some time discussing the option with Hussmann and walked through all the ‘what if’ scenarios. We liked the innovation, the reduction in refrigerant charge, and the positive impact using the system would have on our carbon footprint.”

Hussmann selected high efficiency meat, beverage, produce, and deli merchandisers where possible. The display cases employ higher efficiency evaporator coils that require less compressor energy. High efficiency fan motors on unit coolers and cases further increase Hy-Vee’s energy savings.

Hussmann EcoVision doors were installed on the store’s medium temperature dairy and deli cases. The doors are said to reduce refrigeration energy use by up to 80 percent compared to open cases. Heat is not required in the door or frame, keeping energy costs low. The doors also help maintain more consistent product temperature, resulting in less product waste. The EcoShine II LED lighting system is said to allow more energy savings than using fluorescent lighting. At the same time, lighting is said to be full and uniform while maintaining product color quality.

The ultra-thin door frame and French-style design are said to allow good visibility and easy product access.

With the high efficiency cases and fan motors as well as the EcoShine II LED lighting, the store is estimated to be realizing an energy savings of more than 23 percent compared to a standard non-subcooled rack system. “The refrigeration strategy is a key element in helping us achieve our innovation, energy efficiency, and sustainability objectives,” said Scanlan.

Hy-Vee said the Urbandale store is the chain’s largest.

Sidebar: Supermarket Bells + Whistles

Beyond the basics of refrigeration, supermarkets these days are being outfitted with quite a few bells and whistles. For the new Hy-Vee supermarket in Urbandale, Iowa, there is a full-service restaurant, take-out chef creations, a sushi bar with seating, a coffee shop/lounge area, Italian gelato, a fruit and juice bar, oatmeal bar for breakfast, oven-fired pizzas, a wine and spirits shop, a cooking demonstration area, and convenience services such as an in-store pharmacy and bank.

The ShopRite store in Broadheadsville, Pa., boasts a 125-seat loft area, as well as a meeting space for community nonprofit organizations — many of which Kinsley family members personally support. A stone fireplace is the centerpiece of the space, which overlooks the showroom floor and includes free wireless Internet access, two televisions, and a sofa.

Publication date: 11/26/2012