Impending climate change impacts spur action across both the public and private sector. Regulations, best practices, and efficiency regimes challenge past ideals on chemical usage, and support the use of cleaner, greener alternatives. It is common knowledge today that refrigerant and aerosol emissions damage the ozone layer, resulting in a vulnerability to climate change effects. More than 35,000 retail food establishments (including supermarkets, grocery stores or wholesale clubs) in the U.S. use HCFC-221 as their primary refrigerant2. HCFC-22 is an acknowledged ozone-depleting substance, and is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol, which is the international treaty to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. EPA has been phasing out refrigerants cited by the Montreal Protocol since 2003, and by January 1, 2020, all production and import of virgin HCFC-22 will be banned. To reach this goal, EPA has partnered with GreenChill.

GreenChill is an EPA partnership with food retailers that aims to reduce refrigerant emissions, and consequently decrease their detrimental impacts on the ozone layer that affect climate change. The program works with food retailers to help them transition to using environmentally friendlier refrigerants, reducing refrigerant charge sizes, eliminating leaks, and adopting green refrigeration technologies and best environmental practices. Advanced refrigeration includes multiple systems that reduce refrigerant emissions, including Centralized DX Systems, Distributed Systems, Secondary Loop Systems, Cascade Systems and Low GWP Refrigerants3.

The partnership has three main programs that assist food retailers in reducing refrigerant emissions:

      1. The Food Retailer Corporate Emissions Reduction Program;
      2. The Store Certification Program for Advanced Refrigeration; and
      3. The Advanced Refrigeration Promotion Program.

Benefits of the voluntary program range from environmental to economic and promotional. During the first year of membership, GreenChill Partners reduce their corporate refrigerant emissions by almost 10% on average. Stores with GreenChill Certification emit at least 65% less refrigerant than average supermarkets. Maintaining your refrigerant system and working proactively to reduce leaks also aids significantly in operations and maintenance costs down the line. Beyond these benefits, going above and beyond in regards to regulations sets GreenChill Partners and stores up for success as forerunners in the field of refrigeration sustainability. On a larger scale, the program has the potential to reduce emissions by four million tons of CO2 every year—equal to removing 800,000 cars from roads. Further, there is opportunity for an annual industry savings of over $12 million from reduced refrigeration costs.4 GreenChill will provide users and partners with the tools they need to align with their sustainability goals.

How can you, as a food retailer, take part? GreenChill’s Store Certification Program recognizes individual stores for using environmentally-conscious commercial refrigeration systems. Stores can achieve platinum, gold or silver certifications, and any food retail store in the U.S., whether in the design, remodel, newly constructed or fully operational stage, can apply, free of charge. For more information and application details, visit the GreenChill Store Certification page.

Food retailers can also become GreenChill Partners. Partners must use ozone-depleting or greenhouse gas refrigerants, be willing to reduce their company-wide refrigerant emissions, and have no current Clean Air Act enforcement issues. Current partners include Albertsons, Fresh & Easy, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Whole Foods, Publix, Raleys, Sprouts, and Target, among others. Beyond food retailers, Advance Refrigeration System Manufacturers are also eligible for partnership, if they have made a commitment to promote the adoption of advanced refrigeration technologies, strategies and practices.

Green Uncle Sam Eagle5

1 Also known as R-22.