Transcript of GreenChill Audio Program for the Star Market Platinum Award

For audio and presentation visuals, return to the GreenChill event page.

[theme music]

KEILLY WITMAN: My name is Keilly Witman and I work in the EPA Stratospheric Protection Division and I run the GreenChill Refrigerational Partnership her for us. We work with supermarkets to reduce their impact on the ozone layer and on climate change and we do that by helping them in any way that we can to reduce their emissions of ozone-depleting substances which happen to be potent greenhouse gases too. Supermarkets have huge emissions rates of ozone-depleting chemicals which happen to be potent greenhouse gases. And the regulatory system that’s in place doesn’t require supermarkets in any way, shape or form to reduce those emissions. There was kind of a lack of a incentive or a motivation for supermarkets to do that, so we thought that a voluntary partnership would be able to recognize supermarkets for going above and beyond existing regulations.

We started the GreenChill store certification program last year at the end of October and we only had gold and silver certification levels. Then we started to realize that there are these fantastic technologies out there that actually represent achievements so far above our gold standard that it was a shame to give those stores only a gold. I mean, there are very few stores that can achieve a gold, but these stores were even better than that. So we decided we needed something above gold, and we developed our platinum level standards and even barely by the time we got the platinum level standards out there, there was this Shaw’s Star Chestnut Hill Market that had achieved them already.

KEN MAHTESIAN: My name is Ken Mahtesian. I’m a senior project manager with Shaw’s Star Market, a supermarket in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. We’re the only supermarket in the country that has all LED lighting on the sales floor. That’s all of the cases, all of the lights on the ceilings, right down to the fixtures and the soda machines on the sales floors. All LED lighting. The refrigeration system uses state of the art technology that reduces the amount of refrigerant from 4000 pounds down to 275 pounds. First in the nation platinum award from the EPA. Last would be the hydrogen fuel cell which is powering this building’s electricity, providing domestic hot water and our heat as well as air-conditioning.

And this all started around two years ago when I was assigned as project manager. At first call, Holly Angell, director of criteria and engineering, said: “We have a huge opportunity to green the area. I want to find the best of everything technological and environmental that you possibly can.”

HOLLY ANGELL: My name is Holly Angel and I’m with Shaw’s Star Market with Supervalu, the corporate headquarters, and I’m the director of the engineering department that designed this store and deisgned the technologies into this store. It’s very important for us, for SuperValue and Star Market, because refrigerant increases our carbon imprint and also has the ability to leak and we don’t want that kind of harmful gas to come into the air. So we have contained it as much as possible. In this store it’s contained in one building. And any kind of leak we can have is very minimal. The very most we ever could leak is 20 pounds, and we don’t expect that to happen at all. We expect this store to leak significantly less than any store you’d have in the country. And when I say significantly less, our Supervalu is very good at preventing leaks and our leak rate is around 10%. Most of the grocery stores that we know of are between 15-20%. And this store, the leak potential at this store is 2%.

DAVE SMITH: I’m Dave Smith and the company is Hill Phoenix. We are the manufacturers of the refrigeration equipment for this project and I’m a specialist in refrigeration for Hill Phoenix. The chemicals used as refrigerants that have high global warming potential—we’ve displaced those with environmentally benign chemicals to the tune of… this whole refrigeration system- medium temp and low- uses 264 pounds of what you would consider a greenhouse gas emission. And if we had a conventional design, we’d probably be approaching 4000 pounds. If you lost one pound of refrigerant 404A, it’d be the same to the atmosphere as emitting 3800 pounds of carbon dioxide. We’ve taken the leak potential to a fraction of what it would be, going from 4000 pounds to 264 of that type of chemical.

[Refrigerator units whir in the background]

These are what we call compact chiller units. There are 14 of these—each one operates totally independent from the others. The big advantage is that each one of these takes 11 pounds of refrigerant. If we didn’t have this type of configuration, we would have a big vessel here that might have as much as 2000 pounds of refrigerant, so if something happened as we had a leak, we stood to lose 2000 pounds of refrigerant. And you remember the 2000 times the 3800 of greenhouse gas emissions potential. Here, if we have a leak, we only lose the maximum of 11 pounds. These are totally discrete refrigerant systems. Much like at your home, if you had three refrigerators plugged into the wall, if one of those refrigerators had a problem, it wouldn’t affect the other two, and if got a leak, you wouldn’t lose the gas from the other two.

KEILLY WITMAN: That’s why this system is so fantastic. What this particular store in Boston has achieved is they’re reducing their refrigerant emissions down to almost nothing. An average store out there carries a refrigerant charge of about 4000 pounds and they’re leaking a quarter of that every year, so that’s 1000 pounds of a greenhouse gas that is anywhere from 2000 to 4000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. So this store has taken those emissions from 1000 pounds average down to almost nothing.

Frankly, two years ago when we started GreenChill, the majority of people out there would have publically said that this was impossible to do. Up until now, there are 8 stores in the nation that have achieved GreenChill Gold and there are 12 stores in the nation that have achieved GreenChill Silver. That’s out of about 50 applications that we received, and that’s out of 35,000 supermarkets in the nation.

Supermarkets represent a great opportunity to capitalize on a lot of low-hanging fruit in terms of reducing ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gas emissions. It’s been wonderful to work together with the supermarket industry because I don’t know of any other example where the impossible just two years is now becoming not only possible but, I expect that in a fairly short period of time, that it will become fairly commonplace.

KEN MAHTESIAN: We saw things two years ago on an R+D floor that wasn’t even available on the market. You’re seeing it now in that short period of time.

KEILLY WITMAN: We have a website. It’s www.epa.gov/greenchill. Our store certification program is open to any store in the nation, so you don’t have to be necessarily have to be a GreenChill partner to take advantage of the recognition you’d get for an individual store. Of course, the GreenChill partnership provides lots of other advantages above and beyond the recognition and awards you get. And I would encourage every supermarket company out there to become a GreenChill partner because I always say that first of all that the government provides me as a resource to you using your tax-payers, so for God’s sake use me—I’m sitting here. Secondly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t let these other stores try out these technologies for you and then learn the advantages and disadvantages so that you won’t have to reinvent the wheel yourself. So come on in, share in the information and the learnings that you get by being a GreenChill partner and join the club.

[theme music]