If you look at the issues that affect refrigeration contractors and technicians, you will see such topics as energy efficiencies, alternative refrigerants, new compressor designs, government regulations, leak rates, etc.

One portion of the HVACR industry that seems to have faced such issues first and found workable solutions has been the supermarket sector. When the industry first talked about the phaseout of CFCs, supermarkets were the first to go to HCFCs. Now supermarkets have brought HFCs on-line, in anticipation of the demise of HCFCs. Those who work on supermarket equipment were among the first to get really serious about curbing leak rates and properly using recovery equipment.

Each fall, the major trade association for the supermarket sector — the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) — holds an Energy and Technical Services Conference, with the prime purpose of bringing those who work on mechanical refrigeration equipment up to speed on the latest trends and technologies. This fall’s 23rd annual meeting is Sept. 15-18 in Bal Harbour, FL. Subjects include such basic refrigeration issues as leak rate detection, repair, reporting and compliance; investigating the performance and economics of current technologies; and increasing compressor efficiency.

Then the conference takes those basics and pushes them into directions such as secondary loop systems, distributed generation, and power technologies. Also factored in are lighting issues dealing with fiber optics, energy management through the Internet, and working with wireless technology.

Speakers at the FMI Energy conferences are always varied. Manufacturers are represented, as well as those from government agencies. In the case of the upcoming conference, some folks from Walt Disney World will talk about managing energy data. Speakers also come from those in charge of maintaining supermarket refrigeration equipment. They bring case histories documenting how the latest equipment and servicing techniques work in the real world.

The specific topics for the conference will cover a wide range of issues, with most under the “super-efficient store” umbrella:

  • The store shell and roof;

  • Section 608 update;

  • Alternative refrigerants;

  • New compressor designs;

  • Lighting;

  • Distributed generation;

  • Wireless technology;

  • Energy procurement; and

  • HFCs and alternative technologies for refrigeration.

    All of the above is by way of encouraging those of you who work on commercial refrigeration equipment to consider investing some time and money in attending the FMI Energy and Technical Services Conference.

    You can get more information by contacting Chad Stark or Danielle Smith, the conference planners, at 202-452-8444; energy@fmi.org (e-mail); or www.fmi.org (website).

    I’ve been to almost every conference since my first in 1986. The end result was always the pleasant problem of information overload.

    Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260; 847-622-7266 (fax); or peterpowell@achrnews.com (e-mail).

    Publication date: 08/05/2002