• Supermarket Chains Take Actionto Reduce Energy Use

    May 19, 2010
    Managers at the Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Giant Foods, and Buehler chains are initiating energy efficiency programs.

    Sources from Whole Foods Market report that the company will strive to reduce energy consumption at all of its stores by 25% per sq.ft. by 2015. The natural foods grocer said it will experiment with wind energy, on-site renewable energy, and advanced refrigeration and transportation practices. In new outlets, the company will work to cut emissions by using energy efficient designs, alternative refrigerants, and advanced systems.

    “With this combination of strategies, along with the implementation of energy and emissions tracking systems, we intend to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 25% per sq.ft. by 2015,” report Whole Foods sources. “Saving energy costs less than buying it, so we’re reducing our appetite for energy from both traditional and renewable sources.”

    Existing stores are using less energy through Whole Foods Market's comprehensive retrofit and upgrade projects, and the group said it will invest another $10 million over the next 18 months for additional retrofit and upgrade projects.

    Sprouts Farmers Market’s new store, which opened March 31 in Carmel Mountain Ranch, CA, has earned a silver silver-level award from the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill partnership. The GreenChill Partnership works with supermarket managers to reduce refrigerant emissions.

    “Sprouts Farmers Market shares the EPA’s commitment in decreasing refrigerant emissions through innovative refrigeration design and leak-tight practices in all existing and future stores,” says Jerry Stutler, vice president of construction and facility engineering for the Phoenix-based grocer. To achieve silver certification, a store must meet stringent environmental criteria, including the following:
    —Using refrigerants that don’t damage the Earth’s protective ozone layer
    —Reducing the size of its refrigerant charge by at least 50 percent from the industry average
    —Reducing annual refrigerant emissions to 15 percent or less of total store capacity
    —Testing refrigeration systems for adherence to GreenChill’s leak-tightness guidelines

    Earlier this year, a Sprouts store in Round Rock, TX, received a gold GreenChill certificate. Both Sprouts certificates were achieved with help from Bolingbrook, IL-based Hussmann Refrigeration Equipment and Systems. Sprouts operates 47 stores in four states.

    One of the newest stores in the Giant Food chain opened recently in Harrisburg, PA, featuring systems from Hill Phoenix. The store uses the Hill Phoenix Second Nature medium temperature system, with a 35% aqueous propylene glycol fluid and R407C. By using a low-pressure chilled water loop to circulate the refrigerant, the system eliminates the circulation of high-pressure refrigerant throughout the store floor. Sources say this allows the Second Nature system to achieve a 50% reduction in refrigerant charge.

    Variable speed drives (VSDs) are also incorporated into the design, to provide precise capacity control throughout the operation, and improve energy efficiency. Copper piping is reduced by 5,000 feet.

    Buehler Food Markets, Inc. is the first and only Ohio-based supermarket chain to join an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that enlists food retailers in the fight against ozone-layer depletion and climate change.

    The Wooster-based 13-store independent is the newest member of EPA’s GreenChill Partnership, which the federal agency established to enable supermarkets to reduce harmful refrigerant emissions from stores and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and on climate change.

    Scott Buehler, vice president of Buehlers, says, “GreenChill is just another part of our sustainability program that includes new technologies to reduce power consumption and water consumption; recycle our food waste into compost we sell in our stores; recycling centers; building green for our new ACE hardware in New Philadelphia, Ohio; and burning our used fryer oil as fuel in our diesel trucks. As technology develops, we will continue to improve our sustainability efforts.”