Wegmans GreenChill

Wegmans’ Woodmore store in Maryland has achieved GreenChill Gold-Level Store Certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its ‘green’ refrigeration system. EPA were on hand March 9 at the Woodmore store to present the certificate to Wegmans. The store is one of only 13 supermarkets in the entire nation that hold GreenChill’s gold-level award, and it is currently the only supermarket in the state of Maryland to win EPA’s highest honor for environmentally-friendlier refrigeration. 

 Opened in October 2010, the Woodmore store is first among Wegmans’ 77 supermarkets to use a next-generation design that poses far less global warming potential than most other commercial low-temperature refrigeration systems in use in the nation.  The system, called Second Nature Advance LT System, is made by Hill Phoenix, a leading manufacturer of refrigeration systems for the supermarket industry.

 “We’re honored to have received this store certification award from EPA’s GreenChill Partnership,” said Rich Kelley, Wegmans’ manager of engineering.  “Sustainability is one of our company’s priorities, and the low-temperature refrigeration system at Woodmore is a major step in the right direction.  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 on the roof of the store, carbon dioxide (a gas at room temperature) is super-cooled into liquid form by using the coolant R-404A.  As liquid CO2 travels through pipes deep inside the food cases, it absorbs heat, keeping temperatures in the cases cold enough for frozen foods to stay frozen. When it gets back to the mechanical room, the CO2 is cooled down again for another trip through the food cases. Though R-404A is ozone-friendly, it is a more potent contributor to global warming than CO2.   Systems that reduce the amount of R-404A refrigerant needed and minimize refrigerant 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,” explained 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 non-frozen foods, like those in the dairy or meat departments, are also designed to operate with less R-404A.  Food-grade glycol, an environmentally friendly, non-polluting liquid coolant, circulates in the pipes inside the medium-temperature coolers. R-404A is used only to chill the glycol.  This dual-coolant system for medium-temperature cases is in use at more than a third of Wegmans’ 76 other stores.  In a year’s time, a single store, using the two coolants rather than R-404A alone, is equivalent to removing 435 cars from the roadways and removing the power draw of 315 homes from the electrical grid.

“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 Keilly Witman, Manager of EPA’s GreenChill Partnership.  “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 the EPA, if every supermarket achieved GreenChill standards each year, the supermarket industry could reduce emissions by an amount equal to 3.8 million cars or 2.2 billion gallons of gasoline.

About EPA’s GreenChill Partnership

EPA’s GreenChill Partnership works with supermarkets to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change.  The Partnership provides information and assistance to help supermarkets transition to environmentally friendlier technologies, strategies and practices.  For more information on EPA’s GreenChill Partnership, including its store certification program, please visit www.epa.gov/greenchill

 Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. is a 77-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.  The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is recognized as an industry leader and innovator.  Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by FORTUNE magazine for fourteen consecutive years.  In 2011, Wegmans ranked #3 on the list.