Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc.’s latest location at 1300 West Burlington Ave. in Fairfield, Iowa, opened on April 12 is not only the company’s second LEED-certified store, but also one of less than 15 supermarkets in the country that has achieved U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) GreenChill Gold-Level certification.
Working in partnership, Hy-Vee and Hill PHOENIX, a leading designer and manufacturer of commercial refrigeration products, mapped out a plan to incorporate refrigeration systems throughout the 64,000-square-foot store that would benefit the environment, reduce the store’s environmental footprint, and have a positive impact on the products it provides to customers. Hy-Vee has outfitted the store with Hill PHOENIX Second Nature® Technology systems, making them the products of choice to keep refrigerated and frozen foods at optimum temperatures while using the latest technology to minimize environmental impact.
As an added benefit, the store is a working showcase for locally made Hill PHOENIX products – many of the Hill PHOENIX products in the store have been manufactured less than 30 miles away at the company’s Barker Specialty Division plant in Keosauqua.
“Hy-Vee has a clear commitment to sustainability and to working on ways to be environmentally friendly,” says Mike Smith, director of real estate and sustainability for Hy-Vee. “Certainly what we’re doing at the Fairfield store with Hill PHOENIX and our commitment to the EPA GreenChill partnership is part of that effort.”
Second Nature MT Systems Cuts Refrigerant Charge in Half
Hy-Vee chose the Hill PHOENIX Second Nature Medium Temperature Glycol Secondary System for its meat, seafood and deli cases. With this advanced system, Hill PHOENIX is able to replace a significant amount of R404A refrigerant with food grade propylene glycol and circulate this 35% aqueous propylene glycol fluid throughout the sales floor to refrigerate product displayed in the medium temperature cases and coolers.
“A typical medium temperature direct expansion system would use around 2,700 pounds of refrigerant for a store this size,” explains John Gallaher, director of business development for Hill PHOENIX. “With the Second Nature glycol system, we’re using just a fraction of that amount and circulating the glycol to keep the cases cool,” Gallaher says.
Because R404A is used only to chill the glycol, this advanced system uses just 1,397 pounds of R404A refrigerant charge along with 1,600 gallons of glycol, thus reducing overall refrigerant charge on the medium temperature side by 50% over a standard direct expansion system. This reduction in refrigerant is one of the key features that attracted Hy-Vee to the system.
“This system offers a significant reduction in refrigerant charge,” says Jon Scanlan, director of refrigeration and energy management at Hy-Vee. “It’s extremely important to us and it goes back to our objectives with the EPA GreenChill program to reduce refrigerant charge and emissions.” According to Scanlan, the findings already show that the refrigerant charge at the Fairfield supermarket is “less than half of what we find on our traditional DX systems, and that bodes well for minimizing the charge and emissions at the store moving forward.” Another significant advantage of the Second Nature glycol technology is the improved maintenance opportunities.
“Customers are reporting that they are spending less time and money maintaining stores with the Hill PHOENIX Medium Temperature glycol systems,” Gallaher says. Hy-Vee has also incorporated Hill PHOENIX Coolgenix® patented case technology in its deli and seafood cases. These environmentally friendly cases offer a host of advantages, most notably the ability to control product temperature within one degree of the desired temperature. By controlling humidity and air temperature in the case, product temperatures remain constant throughout the case and on any shelves within a case. Coolgenix technology combined with the use of the glycol system means less temperature swings, resulting in improved product integrity and quality for customers.
Low Temperature Cases Feature
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Technology
For the first time, the Hill PHOENIX Second Nature low temperature CO2 Secondary system is being used by Hy-Vee for its cases and walk-in freezers. This low temperature system uses CO2 fluid as a secondary coolant in a loop piping system. With this technology, CO2 is supercooled into liquid form and then travels throughout the low temperature food cases and walk-ins where it absorbs heat, which is then removed through condenser-evaporators in the machine room. Then, the CO2 is supercooled again and sent back through the cases in a continuing loop.
Having a system that uses CO2 as the secondary coolant is better for the environment, providing a significant decrease in refrigerant charge. In fact, says Gallaher, the low temperatures system only requires 303 pounds of HFC refrigerant charge, about one-fourth less than a typical direct expansion system. The secondary side of the system uses a charge of 1,030 pounds of natural, low cost CO2. In addition, CO2 – which is found naturally in the environment – has a lower global warming potential, as well as excellent thermodynamic and transport properties which help remove heat from the low temp display cases and walk-in freezers. This creates a more efficient system and in turn, can reduce energy consumption by as much as five percent.
The Second Nature low temperature CO2 secondary system also offers Hy-Vee a simpler system to maintain and operate. Explains Gallaher, “With CO2 as the secondary coolant, we’re able to remove expansion valves from the display cases and replace them with solenoid valves. This allows for a much simpler set-up and operation of the system.”
Significant Operational Reductions and Savings
Both the Hill PHOENIX Second Nature Medium Temperature and Low Temperature systems offer significant benefits for the store and the environment:
- The total HFC refrigerant charge will be reduced by 2,500 pounds, a 60% reduction over both systems
- There is a 14% reduction in leak rates over a standard DX system, saving more than 883 pounds of refrigerant per year;
- The total annual carbon footprint of the store will be reduced by 27 million pounds of CO2, which is equivalent to removing 2,249 passenger cars from the road over 10 years, saving nearly 1.4 million gallons of gas over a decade, or adding 31,500 trees each year.
- Because the glycol solution on the medium temperature side can be delivered to the display cases and walk-ins via loop piping, the refrigerant is not under high pressure. This allowed Hill PHOENIX to use Georg Fischer-engineered ABS piping for the store and lowered the store’s environmental impact through better insulating properties that provide energy efficiencies and the elimination of copper derived from the copper smelting process. Other distinct features of new Hill PHOENIX technology being used by Hy-Vee at their Fairfield location include:
- The proprietary Hill PHOENIX SmartValve Superheat Management system on the low temperature CO2 chillers. “This technology provides better control of the heat exchanger operation which results in improved energy performance,” Gallaher says.
- New hinge and latch technology. The Fairfield Hy-Vee store is the first supermarket to feature Hill-PHOENIX’s new proprietary Walk-in Cooler and Freezer latch and hinge designs developed with both store associates and costs in mind. The Fairfield Hy-Vee has the country’s first walk-in products with a 3/4-in. lift on the hinge (vs. industry standard of 3/8”-in. The 3/4-in. lift will increase the life cycle in service areas, increase energy savings, and reduce maintenance on door sweeps that no longer drag and become damaged on floors. In addition, improved latches provide for ease of use while opening doors and improve associate safety over traditional door latches.
Walk-in Fastener-Free Jambs. The Hill PHOENIX Walk-in Fastener-Free Jambs not only improve appearance of the walk-in boxes by eliminating visible fasteners and providing a cleaner look for the walk-ins, but are more durable than traditional jamb guards, save energy by focusing the door heat at the gasket for better performance, and eliminate the safety hazard of exposed edges and fasteners.Polyurethane Foam. Hill PHOENIX walk-ins use the most modern and technologically advanced foam and foaming equipment to insulate its panels.
Hy-Vee Awarded Gold-Level EPA GreenChill Certification The environmentally friendly store in Fairfield was awarded GreenChill Gold-Level Certification from the GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership, a voluntary EPA partnership with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change. The certification program recognizes individual stores for using environmentally friendlier commercial refrigeration systems. To achieve Gold-Level Certification, the new Fairfield Hy-Vee has met EPA GreenChill Gold-Level Certification requirements including using only non-ozone depleting refrigerants, using only refrigerants that have been found acceptable by EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy Program (SNAP), achieving an average HFC refrigerant charge of 1.25 pounds of refrigerant per MBTU/hr total evaporator heat load, and having a storewide annual refrigerant emissions rate of 15% or less.