The supermarket sector has been on the cutting edge when it comes to new refrigerants. Supermarkets have found it important to demonstrate to their customers that they care about the environment because those customers are being bombarded with health and air quality issues, often from the mass media, which can be more concerned about pushing emotional buttons than presenting scientific studies.

A bit of statistical information released earlier this year demonstrates the lengths some supermarkets will go. The information comes from Albertsons, one of the world’s largest food and drug retailers, with annual revenues of approximately $36 billion. The company operates approximately 2,300 retail stores in 31 states, under banners such as Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Albertsons-Osco, Albertsons-Sav-on, Sav-on Drugs, Osco Drug, Max Foods, and Super Saver.

The company, based in Boise, Idaho, started its environmental push when it established a program to recycle cardboard in the late 1960s.

Albertsons noted it began 2003 “with an increased focus on conservation and strict adherence to a commitment to operate in full compliance with all applicable environmental regulations.”

And that includes the regulations governing mechanical refrigeration equipment, especially as detailed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Keeping Things Cool

An aspect related to mechanical refrigeration concerns electrical consumption, since refrigeration equipment is one of the major users of power.

While you can dim lights from time to time, and use natural lighting depending on store design, power is needed nonstop, 24 hours a day for all those refrigerated display cases and frozen food cases.

Yet through it all, Albertsons claims it “has reduced its electricity consumption through the identification and application of energy-conserving technologies in new and existing stores.

“In support of its ongoing efforts to control energy use, the company also launched eLutions — a new technology that helps facility managers monitor and control energy use — in distribution centers and stores across the country.

With eLutions and other energy management technologies, the company has decreased energy consumption significantly, and through improved equipment designs and operations, fewer pollutant emissions result, which helps to protect our air and water resources.”

The point that should not be lost in discussing these official statements from the corporate headquarters of some 2,300 stores is that contractors and technicians who work in the supermarket sector should find the right people willing to listen to new ideas when it comes to refrigeration. And they should find an appreciative audience when it comes to the basics of preventive maintenance, proper servicing, effective leak control, etc.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

Publication date: 09/01/2003