WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's GreenChill Partnership has created a new online "Greenhouse Gas Impact Calculator" that allows food retailers to compare the effect that their refrigerant leaks and electricity consumption each has on global warming and climate change.
The free tool, available at www.epa.gov/greenchill/ptnrresources.html under Tools and Calculators, calculates the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents that could be eliminated from the atmosphere by either cutting emissions of refrigerant gas by or reducing electricity usage, in a store or company-wide.
In the example given in the tool, cutting the emissions of 3,500 pounds of R-404A refrigerant by 20% would eliminate 2.7 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere; on the other hand, reducing 2.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity consumption by 10% would remove 298,922 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent – a far smaller impact.
"Discussions about global warming and climate change in the supermarket industry often center on energy efficiency," said Keilly Witman, manager of GreenChill. "That's fantastic, but an awful lot of sustainability managers and upper management don’t realize that refrigerant leaks are a potential source of reducing global warming gases. Leaks might represent low-hanging fruit."
R404A, the most commonly used refrigerant alternative to Freon (R-22), has an extremely high global warming potential — 3,922 times that of carbon dioxide, she pointed out.
The GreenChill Partnership is a voluntary program aimed at helping food retailers reduce their refrigerant leaks and explore alternative refrigeration gases and systems.