The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), a 501(c)(3) environmental nonprofit working to advance climate-friendly natural refrigerants in supermarkets, has published a free leak reduction guide outlining the significant sources of refrigerant leaks in existing systems. Using data gathered by NASRC supermarket members, the document proposes equipment specification measures for new refrigeration systems to minimize leaks and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.

“Together with NASRC, U.S. retailers are proactively taking steps to characterize and reduce refrigerant leaks over the lifespan of refrigeration systems,” said Danielle Wright, executive director of NASRC. “By taking the lead in identifying these issues and proposing solutions, we hope to drive a new industry standard and reduce the cost burden through economies of scale.”

Supermarket refrigeration is one of the leading sources of HFC emissions. The NASRC estimates the annual climate impact from supermarket and grocery store refrigerant leaks to be 55 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e).

“Refrigerant leaks are more than a climate issue,” said Wright. “They present logistical challenges and additional expenses for supermarkets.”

To address this, NASRC’s members prepared a data-driven list of the top issues causing refrigerant leaks. Members identified leak reduction measures and shared them with major original equipment manufacturers. Participants included members from 14 retailers representing national and regional chains with nearly 17,000 U.S. locations. Data indicated that leak issues were not occurring when the system was newly installed but over the system’s lifetime, primarily due to expansion and contraction from thermal cycling, vibration, and chemical corrosion.