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Earth Day 2018: Seize the Opportunity for Sustainability

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | Marketing Cold Chain Leader
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Since 1970, people worldwide have gathered together every April 22nd for Earth Day to bring attention to issues regarding the health of our planet and ways in which all of us can work toward a healthier, more sustainable way of life and do our best to protect our environment.

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In the refrigeration space, obtaining regulatory compliance and furthering sustainability initiatives are ambitious but necessary tasks that various food retailers face in today’s industry climate. They are not intended to be perceived as challenges, but rather opportunities for businesses to work together to optimize facility operations and create a more environmentally friendly way of doing business. Here are three ways you can seize that opportunity and emphasize sustainability.

  1. Natural refrigerant renaissance

The regulatory climate may seem to be in a constant state of change, but one consistency remains:  carbon dioxide (R-744), propane (R-290) and ammonia (R-717) headline the list of refrigerants which can deliver regulatory compliance and align with corporate sustainability goals. While not perfect, these natural refrigerants are about as close to “future proof” as facility operators currently can get. As technology continues to improve, equipment manufacturers are working closely with forward-thinking companies to develop innovative solutions that have resulted in new, creative natural refrigeration applications.

  1. Using IoT to reduce energy consumption

Integrating HVAC, refrigeration and lighting systems into building automation and supervisory controls systems can help building operators gain insights into energy use and help reduce consumption. Companies like Emerson are working to create technologies that can be easily integrated into existing systems and buildings, helping boost sustainability efforts without incurring costly construction and installation time. Combining these new technologies with smart strategies has opened the door for a bright and sustainable future in the refrigeration industry.

  1. A boom in big data

Using data gathered from remote monitoring services can be used to help reduce waste, increase efficiency, and help ensure food freshness and safety. These remote monitoring services gather data from sensors, monitor conditions like product and case temperature, and provide real-time information on critical store equipment such as energy use, equipment operating condition, refrigerant leaks and more. Utilizing the data gathered by remote monitoring allows companies to simultaneously safeguard food and further sustainability efforts.

Promoting sustainability solutions and tactics shouldn’t only be saved for special occasions like Earth Day. Developing your own “good neighbor” story and making a positive impact on the environment are continual jobs. The opportunity to develop sustainability initiatives that become the industry standard is more present than ever; consider how you can seize that opportunity today.

Supermarket Refrigeration Systems Are Constantly Evolving

anijayanth Ani Jayanth | Director, Product Marketing

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article from ACHR News, entitled Supermarket Refrigeration Systems Are Constantly Evolving.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

Supermarket Refrigeration Systems are constantly Evolving

The supermarket refrigeration industry is becoming increasingly more complex. Emerging technologies for refrigeration system architectures and a shift toward more environmentally friendly refrigerants have both caused contractors to alter how they approach work in today’s market.

Don Newlon, Emerson’s vice president and general manager of food retail, Cold Chain, recommends looking at the situation from the points of view of supermarket clients.

“Choosing a refrigeration system used to be all about energy efficiency, but many customers today have different things they’re trying to optimize,” Newlon said. “Energy efficiency is still important, but many customers also are seeking to reach environmental or sustainability goals. In fact, for some, that’s their primary motivation. So, be aware that there will be some segmentation of the end-user base, depending on customers’ particular goals.”

Customers are pursuing refrigeration architectures because of the benefits they want to receive from them. Knowing the needs and goals of each individual client can help contractors provide clients with the proper architecture, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to service.

Customer needs and goals aren’t the only things evolving. Technological advances in commercial refrigeration are coming at a rapid pace, especially pertaining to CO₂ systems. Andre Patenaude, Emerson’s director of food retail marketing and growth strategy (who formerly served as the company’s director of CO₂ business development), noted that these advances in CO₂ systems are benefiting both new and current technologies.

“Many of the energy-saving features on CO₂ systems can actually be applied to current HFC systems if end users want to keep their old systems but reduce their energy footprints and maintenance costs,” Patenaude said. “There are ways of significantly improving the systems we already have.”

Along with CO₂, propane is also gaining popularity as a refrigerant in smaller, self-contained cases. With its charge limit of 150 grams per refrigeration circuit, it can be easily integrated into display cases that combine several circuits.

“It’s not going to be any one thing that dominates the market in the future,” Newlon said. “Given that, we think the best advice we can give to supermarket contractors is to discuss what their end users’ long-range plans are. Learn what’s important to them, and then help them understand the system architectures that would be the best options for their stores.”

Blog 7: CO2 Leaves a Smaller Carbon Footprint in Large-Format Food Retail Market

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director Food Retail, Growth Strategy

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

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Market drivers and refrigerant regulations in recent years have placed an increased focus on sustainability for large-format retailers. Among the natural refrigerant alternatives suitable for these centralized applications, CO2 (or refrigerant name R-744) leads the pack. Offering zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and a global warming potential (GWP) of 1, CO2 is often considered the benchmark for environmentally friendly refrigerants. In terms of customer-facing peace of mind, CO2 has neither the flammability nor toxicity challenges posed by other natural refrigerant alternatives. And, as energy efficiencies and the reliability of CO2 refrigeration systems rise, system costs have fallen to levels typically found in traditional hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) systems.

Increasing global CO2 adoption

For all these reasons, CO2 has become the preferred natural refrigerant option for large-format food retailers. A recent Shecco study1 on CO2 adoption confirms this trend, showing a growing number of CO2 transcritical stores worldwide:

  • Canada: 150+
  • United States: 260+
  • Japan: 2,400+
  • Europe: 9,000

The number of CO2 stores in the E.U., Norway and Switzerland has tripled in the last three years, representing 8 percent of the overall food retail market share in these regions. In North America, retailers are still in an experimental “trial” phase to see how CO2 — and other natural refrigerants for that matter — can be used in their facilities and across varying climatic zones.

As older systems age and require upgrading or replacement, many large-format food retailers will be seizing the opportunity to transition from higher-GWP, HFC refrigeration architectures to lower-GWP systems. This trend toward eco-friendly refrigeration is being driven by multiple forces: 1) global regulatory efforts to phase down HFCs; 2) industry organizations like the Consumer Goods Forum that advocate the use of these systems; and 3) many retailers are stating corporate sustainability objectives.

Economies of scale reduce operating costs

The steady increase in global CO2 refrigeration adoption has led equipment and component manufacturers to not only increase production, but also make continued investments in research and development to refine CO2 technologies. These economies of scale are helping to lower CO2 system costs and reduce complexities for end users and service technicians alike.

CO2 training — both formal and hands-on types — has greatly improved as the industry becomes much more familiar with CO2 architectures and performance characteristics. Even refrigeration consultants are becoming well-versed in CO2 systems and can make more educated recommendations.

While the U.S. is still in the early phases of trials and experimentation, every successful implementation increases the likelihood of more stores making the transition to CO2. Safe, environmentally friendly, economical and reliable: CO2 has all the characteristics that make it a candidate as the large-format refrigerant of the future.

Read the full Accelerate America article on the large-format refrigerant of the future [pg.16].

[New E360 Webinar] Pioneering Natural Refrigerants: A Grocery Case Study

Dean Landeche_Blog Dean Landeche | Vice President of Marketing , Cold Chain
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Join us for our next E360 Webinar, “Pioneering Natural Refrigerants: A Grocery Case Study” on Thursday, April 26 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT.

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Few food retailers have staked their reputation on environmentally friendly practices more than the natural foods industry leader, Whole Foods Market. At the heart of Whole Foods Market’s sustainability initiatives is their pioneering approach to the use of refrigeration architectures based entirely on ultra-low GWP, natural refrigerants — a strategy that makes them one of the first retailers in the United States to embrace propane (R-290) in their stand-alone display cases.

In our next E360 webinar, we will give you an opportunity to hear firsthand from Tristam Coffin, director of sustainability and facilities for Whole Foods Market’s northern California region, as he discusses the factors driving the retailer’s pioneering strategy of natural refrigerant use.

We will also provide an update on the regulations governing the use of R-290, including the potential changes to charge limits and evolving safety standards. Finally, for an OEM perspective, the webinar will feature a leading manufacturer of R-290 stand-alone commercial refrigeration equipment — one which has recently migrated its entire stand-alone product line to R-290.

Webinar attendees will learn:

  • The latest global regulations governing R-290 use
  • Drivers behind Whole Foods’ natural refrigerant strategy and R-290 adoption
  • An OEM perspective on making R-290 the basis of its stand-alone units

Whether it’s low-charge ammonia, CO2 refrigeration architectures or R-290 in stand-alone units, natural refrigerants are becoming more commonplace in commercial refrigeration. For retailers like Whole Foods, these alternatives are part of their mission to conduct environmentally friendly business practices.

This webinar will provide a unique opportunity to gain a 360-degree perspective on the subject of natural refrigerants, from the component manufacturer to the OEM to the end user. If you would like to hear multiple sides of the natural refrigerant story, please join us for this informative webinar on Thursday, April 26 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT.

 

[Webinar Recap] Factors in Evaluating and Selecting Refrigerants

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director Food Retail, Growth Strategy

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog is based on our most recent E360 Webinar, “Top Retailer Trends for Refrigeration, Controls and Facility Optimization.”

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I recently participated in an E360 webinar where we explored trends in refrigeration systems and controls and discussed how they continue to evolve to keep up with changes in consumer preferences, global regulations and market dynamics. The webinar also featured John Wallace, Emerson’s director of innovation, and Andrew Knight, vice president of Henderson Engineers. Together, we presented insights into the factors driving refrigerant selection, controls architectures and design strategies.

The first of these trends is the continuing global transition toward the use of more environmentally friendly refrigerants. When we look at the market dynamics behind this movement, refrigerant selection is one factor among a long list of considerations for food retailers — but one that impacts system architectures, controls and long-term operational goals.

It’s important to keep in mind that food retailers are making refrigerant decisions within an increasingly complex cold chain. As the product journey from farm to fork requires many handling and transportation steps involving multiple intermediaries, the objective of maintaining consistent temperature remains paramount. But, once food arrives in their stores, retailers then face a combination of consumer-driven and operational requirements, including:

  • Producing consistently fresh, high-quality foods
  • Appealing to the growing demand for “experiential retail”
  • Meeting energy efficiency and sustainability objectives

As a result, retailers are making investments in improved shopping experiences, new refrigeration systems and facility management controls.

Natural Refrigerant Architectures

The current regulatory climate has paved the way for the resurgence of natural refrigerants — largely due to their ultra-low global warming and ozone depletion potentials. Commercial and industrial refrigeration manufacturers continue to develop systems that utilize the potential of these gases while mitigating their operating challenges. Among the leading natural refrigerant architectures used in supermarkets are:

  • CO2 booster transcritical — large-capacity system based completely on CO2; ideal for low ambient conditions; high ambient strategies are becoming more viable
  • Indirect chiller with cascade — niche application delivers a fully natural solution for large commercial or industrial applications; capable of utilizing multiple, low-charge refrigerant options, including: naturals, HFOs or A2Ls
  • Distributed — well-suited for smaller applications; allows for multiple refrigerant options (including CO2) and the flexibility to deploy individual systems for low- and medium-temperature suction groups
  • Integrated case (or micro-distributed) — integrates the refrigeration system into the case, typically using a low charge of R-290 (propane); unit condensers connect to a shared water loop for heat management

In our next blog, John Wallace will discuss the crucial role of controls in these systems and how refrigerants influence controls architectures.

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