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Wegmans Food Markets’ Woodmore store in Maryland has earned Gold-Level store certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Partnership program recognizing eco-friendly refrigeration systems. The store is one of only 13 supermarkets in the United States to receive the EPA’s gold-level award, as well as being the only Maryland grocery store to bag the prestigious honor.
Opened in October 2010, the Woodmore store is first of Wegmans’ 77 supermarkets to employ a the cutting-edge Second Nature Advance LT System from Conyers, Ga.-based Hill Phoenix.
“Sustainability is one of our company’s priorities, and the low-temperature refrigeration system at Woodmore is a major step in the right direction,” noted Rich Kelley, manager of engineering at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans. “In addition to reducing the global warming potential that refrigeration systems can pose, it also uses less energy.”
The system maintains correct temperatures in frozen food cases with two coolants. In a mechanical room located on the roof of the store, carbon dioxide, which is a gas at room temperature, is super-cooled into a liquid form by using the coolant R-404A. As liquid carbon dioxide moves through pipes within the food cases, it absorbs heat, keeping temperatures in the cases cold enough for frozen foods to remain so. When it returns to the mechanical room, the carbon dioxide is again cooled down for another trip through the food cases. Although R-404A is ozone-friendly, it’s a bigger contributor to global warming than carbon dioxide, so systems that lower the amount of refrigerant needed are better for the environment.
“The design of the system at the Woodmore store lets us cut our use of R-404A by about half,” said Kelley. “We are able to do this by substituting other refrigerants that are better for the environment, and confining all of the R-404A in mechanical room compressors, instead of having it circulate throughout the network of pipes.
The Woodmore store’s coolers for refrigerated products are also designed to work with less R-404A. Food-grade glycol, an eco-friendly, non-polluting liquid coolant, circulates in the pipes within the medium-temperature coolers. R-404A is used only to chill the glycol. The dual-coolant system for medium-temperature cases is now in use at more than a third of Wegmans’ other locations. In a year’s time at a single store, employing the two coolants instead of just R-404A is the equivalent of removing 435 cars from the roads and removing the power draw of 315 homes from the electrical grid, according to the grocery chain
“Wegmans is setting an excellent example of environmental leadership by showing it is serious about its role in protecting the ozone layer and preventing climate change,” said GreenChill manager Keilly Witman. “The environmental improvements achieved by this store design are clearly exemplary in the supermarket industry. As the only store in the entire state of Maryland to meet GreenChill’s tough environmental standards for certification awards, this store sets a high bar for its competitors.”
According to EPA, if every supermarket attained GreenChill standards annually, the supermarket industry could slash emissions by an amount equal to 3.8 million cars, or 2.2 billion gallons of gas.
Family-owned Wegmans operates stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.