The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month recognized 13 organizations in the supermarket industry for their achievements in protecting human health and the environment under the agency’s GreenChill Partnership Program. The GreenChill Partnership works with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer by supporting a transition to environmentally friendlier refrigerants, lowering charge sizes and eliminating leaks, and adopting green refrigeration technologies and best environmental practices.
For the second straight year, the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society’s four food stores earned the EPA’s award for Most Improved Emissions Rate.
Ed Fox, general manager of the Hanover Co-op Food Stores, put the award in the context of the grocery industry. “For the Hanover Co-op, we may be the nation’s second-largest food cooperative, but we’re tiny compared to the largest grocery chains in the world. So it is especially noteworthy to earn such an award along with mammoth retailers.” Fox also commended City Market (Onion River Co-op), in Burlington, Vermont for its top honors for Best Corporate Emissions Rate, an award won by the Hanover Co-op last year. “It’s so great to see food cooperatives recognized for their long-standing work on issues of environmental responsibility.”
“We applaud all the supermarket chains that have demonstrated tremendous environmental leadership through the prevention of refrigerant releases and the use of advanced refrigeration technologies,” said EPA Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum. “It’s good for the environment, and it’s just good business.”
“We’re all in this together,” said Hanover Co-op facilities manager Tom Guillette. “The team at Hanover has made massive improvements to our systems. We’re saving money, helping the planet, and we’ve even hosted webinars to share our knowledge with big grocery chains and other co-ops.” The Hanover Co-op was the first food cooperative to join the GreenChill Partnership.
“The Hanover Co-op should be applauded for significantly reducing the emission of refrigerants from their coolers and freezers,” said Tom Land, manager of EPA’s GreenChill program. “They are demonstrating what is possible with good management of refrigeration systems and saving the co-op money.”
Over the past decade, EPA’s GreenChill Partnership has grown from 4,500 stores to over 11,000 stores nationwide, representing about 29 percent of the U.S. supermarket industry. If supermarkets nationwide reduced the amount of refrigerant they leak to the current average leak rate for GreenChill partner companies, they could avoid $212 million each year in the cost of refrigerant that needs to be replaced while preventing the annual emission of 29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and 151 ozone depletion potential (ODP) tons.
GreenChill Partners in the retail food business have refrigerant emissions rates nearly 50 percent lower than the EPA-estimated industry average. Emissions for stores in the GreenChill program average 13.9 percent. Hanover Co-op’s current emission rate is 7.7 percent, down from 9 percent the previous year.
Leaks are typically caused by aging equipment and miles of high-pressure, closed-loop tubing that suffers wear and tear during thousands of hours of operation. Each time the system compressors start (hundreds of times per day), the plumbing vibrates and chafes against the cases. Over time, holes wear into the piping causing loss of refrigerant and products. “Before we joined GreenChill,” Guillette said, “it was not uncommon to have emission rates of 50 percent across our organization, downtime of days, and related costs exceeding $300,000 per year in repairs and refrigerant. Because part of our Co-op’s mission is to protect and restore the environment, we got busy, fast.”
EPA recognized GreenChill partners in the following categories:
Most Improved Emissions Rate
Hanover Co-op Food Stores (Hanover, N.H.) was honored with the “Most Improved Emissions Rate” recognition for achieving the Program’s largest refrigerant leak rate reduction compared to 2011, the year it joined GreenChill. Harris Teeter (Matthews, N.C.) lowered its emissions rate more than any other partner compared to the previous year.
Best Corporate Emissions Rate
Harris Teeter (Matthews, N.C.) earned the Program’s most prestigious recognition for achieving the lowest refrigerant emissions rate among retail supermarket chains. City Market Onion River Co-op (Burlington, Vt.) received this recognition for the category of small independent grocers. Goal Achievement
GreenChill’s four “Superior Goal Achievement” winners voluntarily set and achieved their challenging corporate goal for reducing refrigerant emissions. Winners include Coborn’s Inc. (St. Cloud, Minn.), Food Lion (Salisbury, N.C.), Hy-Vee (West Des Moines, Iowa), and Harris Teeter (Matthews, N.C.). Hy-Vee (West Des Moines, Iowa), was the sole partner to earn “Exceptional Goal Achievement” for meeting an even more stringent “stretch” refrigerant emissions reduction goal.
Whole Foods Market (Austin, Texas) was honored with the “Distinguished Partner” recognition for leadership through active participation and information sharing in this year’s GreenChill Program events.
GreenChill’s Store Certification Program recognized individual stores for meeting strict performance criteria that demonstrate their refrigeration systems have minimal impacts on the ozone layer.
GreenChill presented the following store certification recognitions:
Best of the Best
Lidl US (Arlington, Va.) was honored as “Best of the Best” for its innovative approach to refrigeration in its GreenChill certified store in Kinston, N.C. The Lidl USA store only uses stand-alone refrigerated cases with a very small amount of an environmentally-friendly refrigerant.
Store Certification Excellence
Hillphoenix (Conyers, Ga.) and Sprouts Farmers Market (Phoenix, Ariz.) earned recognition for achieving more GreenChill store certifications than their peers over the past year; this is each company’s seventh and sixth consecutive time earning this recognition, respectively.
Learn more about the GreenChill Partnership and winners’ achievements: https://www.epa.gov/greenchill