Saturday, May 09, 2009

Green Chill
How green is your grocer?

Last night Keilly Witman from EPA's GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership, the program that attempts to get grocery stores to reduce ozone-killing refrigerant leaks, talked at EcoTuesday in DC. What I thought might not be our most exciting topic turned out to be one of the most interesting I've heard in the 8 months of co-hosting these events.

Ozone-depleting refrigerants are also potent greenhouse gases. One pound of the most commonly used HFC refrigerants has the same impact as about 4000 lbs of CO2. This is why Witman calls the reduction of refrigerant leaks the low-hanging-fruit of emissions control. There are 35,000 supermarkets in the US and each typically carries about 4000 lbs of refrigerant and leaks about 25% of that. So, you do the math: 1000 lbs of high global warming gas from each of 35,000 supermarkets = 35,000,000 lbs leaked each year. And its pretty simple and cheap to cut that number in half, which is where most GreenChill partner markets come in.

According to a 2008 GreenChill press release:

Compared to the rest of the supermarket industry, GreenChill partners are already emitting fewer ozone-depleting refrigerants and greenhouse gases than their competitors, and saving money at the same time. The partners’ savings in operating costs equal almost $13 million.

If every supermarket in the nation joined GreenChill and reduced their emissions to the current GreenChill average, the industry could prevent the release of 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and 157 ozone-depleting potential tons annually.

Click on the link to find out which chains participate.

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