The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s GreenChill Program presented its Store Leadership award to a remodeled Target outlet in Vista, California, that uses a transcritical CO2 (R744) system and has applied for net-zero energy certification from the International Living Future Institute.

ALDI US was also recognized for having the most GreenChill-certified stores, most of them using transcritical CO2 refrigeration.

The awards were among those presented by Kersey Manliclic, GreenChill Program Manager, at an awards breakfast and ceremony that took place during the FMI (The Food Industry Association) Energy and Store Development Conference in Orlando, Florida, September 19–21.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, GreenChill is a voluntary partnership program that works cooperatively with the U.S. food retail industry to reduce refrigerant emissions and explore alternative refrigeration systems. The program includes 33 food retail company partners encompassing 13,515 stores.

It also runs a store certification program that certifies individual stores – at gold, silver or platinum – for achieving low levels of leakage and charge or for using systems that don’t employ HFC or ozone-depleting refrigerants. The program is open to partner and non-partner stores.

The Store Leadership award is given to a GreenChill-certified store “demonstrating innovation.” It was previously called the “Best of the Best” award and has typically gone to a store using a natural refrigerant-based system. A Target store won the award in 2019.

According to a statement from Target, the Vista, California, outlet is its most sustainable store to date. The site is expected to produce up to a 10% energy surplus each year that it can transmit back to the local power grid and will test multiple innovations to reduce the building’s emissions.

This Vista store will generate renewable energy through 3,420 solar panels, which will also power the building’s HVAC systems (instead of using natural gas). The store switched to CO2 refrigeration, which Target plans to scale chain-wide by 2040 “to reduce its direct operations’ emissions by 20%.”

Target’s Vista outlet is the first GreenChill-certified store to apply for net zero energy certification from the International Living Future Institute, one of the world’s most demanding certification bodies for energy performance in the built environment.

ALDI dominates store certifications

GreenChill also recognized Batavia, Illinois-based ALDI US with its Store Certification Excellence Award in the supermarket category as the food retailer with the most GreenChill-certified stores in the past year (July 1, 2021–June 30, 2022). It is the fourth consecutive year ALDI has received this award.

ALDI certified 505 stores at the platinum level – the highest number of platinum-level stores certified in one year by any company in GreenChill’s history. Nearly 500 of Aldi’s 2,000 stores now use CO2 as the primary refrigerant, according to its 2022 sustainability progress report, and account for most of the certified stores.

Most of the 505 stores were certified in previous years as well. In fact, the EPA also awarded 21 ALDI stores with Store Re-Certification Excellence honors for receiving GreenChill store certifications for five consecutive years. In the first half of 2022, 19 ALDI stores received their first GreenChill Certification, with over 100 more stores planning to apply for their first certifications by the end of 2022; this could bring the total number of certified ALDI stores across the country to nearly 610.

Among its newly platinum-certified platinum stores was the 500th outlet to switch over to environmentally friendly refrigerants (mostly transcritical CO2, including this store), located in Mobile, Alabama. This milestone is significant, ALDI noted, “because CO2 refrigeration systems require high pressure to operate, which is challenging to achieve in warm, humid climates.”

“Being recognized as a leader in sustainability by the EPA time and time again makes our work stand out and is something truly special,” said Dan Gavin, Vice President of National Real Estate at ALDI, in a statement. “We’re working to decrease our overall impact on the climate more and more each day, with each step bringing us that much closer to becoming ‘real zero,’ or completely emissions-free.”

From left: Kersey Manliclic of the EPA and Chris Smyser of ALDI US, accepting the Store Certification Excellence (Supermarket) GreenChill award.

“Being recognized as a leader in sustainability by the EPA time and time again makes our work stand out and is something truly special.”

Dan Gavin, ALDI

U.S. OEM Hillphoenix received the Store Certification Excellence Award in the non-supermarket category as the commercial refrigeration systems manufacturer that has installed more advanced refrigeration systems in GreenChill-certified stores than any other partner in the past year. This is the 11th consecutive year Hillphoenix has won this award.

Inclusive of the 2021-2022 cycle, Hillphoenix systems are installed in over 80% of GreenChill-certified stores, according to a statement by the company. Hillphoenix expects to have over 1,000 transcritical CO2 systems in North America by end of 2022 and over 2,000 in 2025. Having 10,000 transcritical CO2 installations in North America by 2030 is “a realistic goal,” according to Paul Sindoni, President & CEO of Dover Food Retail Hillphoenix.

In addition, a Sprouts Farmers Market store in Whittier, California, was awarded a Store Certification Excellence award for renewing its GreenChill Store certification for 10 consecutive years.

At the recognition event, a total of 42 stores from multiple retailers – including 21 from ALDI and 17 from Sprouts Farmers Market – received the Store Re-Certification Excellence award for renewing their certification for five consecutive years.

Reducing emissions

Best Emissions Rate awards were given to retailers with the lowest corporate-wide refrigerant emissions rate of all retail GreenChill partners. The winners were Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Meijer in the “retail chain” category and Ashland, Oregon-based Ashland Food Co-Op in the “small–independent” category.

GreenChill also awarded the partner with the “Most Improved Emissions Rate” for commercial systems from the previous year and since the baseline (initial) year. Seattle, Washington-based PCC Community Markets won the year-to-year category while Sunbury, Pennsylvania-based Weis Markets was awarded for improvement over the baseline year.

Another category was Superior Goal Achievement for partners that achieves their annual GreenChill refrigerant emissions reduction goal. This category had nine awardees. Exceptional Goal Achievement awards were given to partners achieving their “stretch” refrigerant emissions reduction goal. This goal is more difficult to achieve than the goal recognized with Superior Goal Achievement and had four awardees.

To see a complete list of winners, view this pdf.

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