Target and Amazon have both recently announced plans to construct new stores that contain CO2 refrigeration systems, which will help the retailers significantly reduce carbon emissions and energy use.

Target Corp. announced that its Vista, California, store will generate more renewable energy than it needs annually to operate and that it will test multiple innovations to reduce the building's emissions. The store will generate renewable energy through 3,420 solar panels across its roof and newly installed carport canopies. The site is expected to produce up to a 10% energy surplus each year that it can transmit back to the local power grid, and Target has applied for net zero energy certification from the International Living Future Institute.

The building also features elements to further reduce emissions, such as powering its HVAC heating through rooftop solar panels, instead of natural gas. Additionally, the store switched to CO2 refrigeration, a natural refrigerant, that Target will scale chain-wide by 2040 to reduce its direct operations' emissions by 20%.

"We've been working for years at Target to shift toward sourcing more renewable energy and further reducing our carbon footprint, and our Vista store's retrofit is the next step in our sustainability journey and a glimpse of the future we're working toward," said John Conlin, senior vice president of properties at Target. "Our new stores and remodel programs are designed to help achieve our sustainability goals as we test, learn, and scale our innovations over time across our operations."

Amazon Fresh is pursuing zero carbon certification from the International Living Future Institute for its newest grocery store in Seattle, Washington. More than a dozen upgrades and features have been incorporated throughout the design and development of the 35,000-square-foot retail space. These are expected to allow the store to save nearly 185 tons of CO2e each year, equivalent to driving around the Earth 18 times in a standard passenger vehicle.

Updates to this store include transitioning to a CO2-based refrigeration system, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 38 metric tons per year compared to a conventional system. Additional doors on the refrigeration cases will also reduce energy consumption. The store also uses steel byproducts in the concrete floor to reduce the embodied carbon — the carbon associated with the manufacturing and installation of the flooring — by nearly 40% compared to a standard concrete floor.

Another critical change is the fully electric kitchen space, where store teams prepare fresh food, that reduces the need for fossil fuel combustion in the store. The store will also use 100% renewable electricity sourced from Amazon’s renewable energy projects, which helps the company continue in its progress to power Amazon operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.

“We are constantly thinking about what we can do to make the customer shopping experience easier, more seamless, and more sustainable,” said Stephenie Landry, vice president of Amazon Grocery. “We know many customers are prioritizing sustainability in what products they buy and where they choose to shop. With our newest Amazon Fresh store, we are taking the next step on our path to becoming a net-zero carbon business by 2040, and we welcome customers to experience this firsthand while shopping with us in this store.”