SALISBURY, N.C. — By pledging to adopt an environmentally friendly refrigeration technology, Food Lion last week became one of the first supermarket chains in the country to team up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a campaign to protect the ozone layer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Officials from Food Lion last week demonstrated the technology at a store in Montpelier, Va., during an event attended by retailers, vendors and representatives from the EPA and the Food Marketing Institute. The store, one of three units of Food Lion that are testing or will test the next-generation cooling systems, is using a low-temperature secondary system that uses naturally occurring carbon dioxide to refrigerate foods. At a Food Lion in Dinwiddie, Va., the company is testing a medium-temperature secondary coolant system that uses water and glycol to refrigerate food. For purposes of comparison, both systems will be installed at a third store, in Portsmouth, Va., scheduled to open in early 2008.
A division of Brussels-based Delhaize Group, Food Lion worked with Hill Phoenix, a designer and manufacturer of commercial refrigeration systems, to roll out the programs. Among their benefits, the technologies require less refrigerant, therefore lessening the degree of global warming and ozone depletion, raise suction temperatures without raising food temperatures, require less maintenance than traditional direct expansion systems, and use less copper piping, therefore lowering the number of potential refrigerant leaks into the environment, according to Conyers, Ga.-based Hill Phoenix.
“Food Lion believes that a critical aspect of serving our customers is to be a responsible corporate citizen,” said Glenn Dixon, Food Lion's senior vice president of corporate development, in a statement. “We take great pride in undertaking initiatives such as these, which will protect the environment and sustain the communities in which we operate for years to come.”
An outside consulting firm, VLE Enterprises, Pottsboro, Texas, will monitor and measure the impact on the environment, energy consumption, initial costs, maintenance expenses and total cost of ownership expenses at the three stores. At the conclusion of the evaluation, Food Lion officials will report the findings to the EPA and conduct an internal review. Depending on the results, the systems will be rolled out at additional stores, officials said.
By committing to the EPA's GreenChill partnership, Food Lion has pledged to:
Require all new and remodeled stores to be ozone-friendly in advance of Clean Air Act phase-out requirements
Establish an emissions inventory, to be used to set emissions reduction targets.
Participate in an industry/government research initiative to assess the performance of advanced technologies including the secondary loop system at the Montpelier store.
In partnership with supermarkets and chemical and refrigeration equipment manufacturers, the EPA launched the GreenChill program to promote the use of retail food refrigeration technologies that reduce emissions of ozone depleting and greenhouse gas refrigerants. The program asks participating retailers to make several commitment that go beyond regulatory compliance.
“We congratulate Food Lion and Hill Phoenix for creating this cutting-edge supermarket,” said Jeff Cohen, who manages the U.S. EPA's alternatives and emissions reductions program and who signed the GreenChill pledge. “This store, along with Food Lion's store in Dinwiddie, Va., are the showcases for the next generation of refrigeration technology. We also are pleased by Food Lion's decision to join the GreenChill partnership and continue its role as an industry leader in environmental sustainability initiatives.”
By the EPA's estimate, widespread adoption of best practices, improved equipment design and service, and advanced refrigeration technologies could reduce refrigerant emissions by 1 million metric tons of carbon equivalent per year — the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off the road, and saving more than $12 million in operating expenses.
Operating more than 1,200 supermarkets in 11 states, Food Lion has supported energy conservation efforts for several years. Most recently, the chain earned the Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award from the EPA in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Food Lion received the EPA's Energy Star Partner of the Year awards in 2001 and 2002 in recognition of its efforts to use energy management practices and technology throughout its stores.