In the latest example of a small U.S. grocer adopting natural refrigerant technology, New Seasons Market, a 20-store supermarket operator based in Portland, Ore., has installed a transcritical CO2 refrigeration system from Hussmann Corp. in a recently opened store – and is planning two more CO2 deployments in 2018.

“I believe in the product,” said Beau Butler, director of construction and facilities, New Seasons Market. “I believe natural refrigeration is the right way to go.”

The 37,000-square-foot store, revamped from a former Albertsons supermarket in Mercer Island, Wash., was awarded EPA Platinum Certification, recognizing a reduction of at least 95% in refrigeration emissions.

The transcritical system comprises a Hussmann Purity transcritical CO2 refrigeration rack, a CO2 charge of 1,100 lbs., three Copeland scroll low-temperature compressors, four Bitzer reciprocating medium-temp compressors, a CPC XM case controller and an air cooler with a variable frequency drive.

Although New Seasons Market was new to CO2 refrigeration, Butler was not. He was involved in three CO2 projects during his time at Whole Foods Market, including two transcritical CO2 installations.

His familiarity with the technology, along with the efficiencies he witnessed at Whole Foods, contributed to his decision to deploy the Hussmann Purity CO2 system at the New Seasons store.

Prices dropping

Butler said he had noticed that costs for CO2 systems seemed to be coming down, and more and more contractors were becoming familiar with the systems.

“The pricing was getting more competitive,” Butler said. “It was the right thing to do financially for the company, both in the short and long term.”

“I know natural refrigeration is the right direction to go.

Beau Butler, director of construction and facilities, New Seasons Market

Hussmann was the lowest bidder qualified for the project, he said, and Butler was confident in the abilities of Hussmann’s engineers. The costs for the system were comparable to traditional refrigeration systems, Butler said.

New Seasons is partnering with local contractor Refrigeration Unlimited to service the system.

The old Albertsons store that provided the shell for the New Seasons Market had been using an R404A refrigeration system, which New Seasons removed.

“We definitely weren’t going back to R404A,” Butler said.

Although some supermarket operators have been able to use heat reclaimed from their CO2 refrigeration systems to contribute a significant portion of their overall heating needs, Butler said the Mercer Island installation will only provide about 10% of the store’s heat, as the store already has a highly efficient rooftop heating system.

The 20-unit chain has two new stores slated to deploy transcritical CO 2 systems in 2018, one in Seattle and the other in San Francisco. New Seasons is working with Zero Zone, a manufacturer Butler had worked with at Whole Foods, on both of those projects.

New Seasons is in the process of calculating its energy savings from the newly installed system, Butler said.

“We’re just looking for efficiencies,” he said. “I know natural refrigeration is the right direction to go.”

New Seasons Market, Mercer Island

Author Mark Hamstra

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