The EPA yesterday announced several new actions that aim to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
The agency proposed a rule that would improve the way refrigerant is sold, handled, recovered and recycled. The proposal would strengthen the existing requirements for handling refrigerants and apply those rules to ozone-depleting and HFC refrigerants.
The EPA estimates that this rule would further reduce enough HFC emissions in 2025 to equal 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. The agency plans to finalize this rule in 2016.
The EPA also announced that it will initiate a proposed rulemaking in 2016 under the Significant New Alternatives Policy program that would change the status for certain high global warming potential HFCs to unacceptable where safer alternatives are available and also approve several new climate-friendly alternatives for a variety of industry applications.
The EPA announced these proposals at a roundtable discussion with other public agencies and private companies — the second such discussion that saw major companies announce commitments to curb HFC emissions.
At the roundtable, GreenChill Partner Target announced that all of the new stand-alone coolers in its stores with a compressor capacity below 2,200 btu/hr will be HFC-free starting in January 2016. Also, Roundy’s Supermarket announced it joined EPA’s GreenChill Partnership and committed to using HFC-free transcritical CO2 refrigeration technology in its six new stores that are opening next year in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Additionally, the Department of Defense announced a suite of new commitments, including installing low-GWP transcritical CO2 refrigeration systems at three US commissaries in 2016 and strengthening existing collaborations and creating mechanisms to build new military-to-military and industry partnerships to share information and lessons-learned on emissions reductions and lower-GWP alternatives.
The new efforts build upon progress and commitments already made under EPA’s GreenChill partnership, which works with the supermarket industry to transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, reduce the amount of refrigerant used and eliminate harmful refrigerant leaks.
If supermarkets nationwide reduced the amount of refrigerant they leak to the current GreenChill partner average, they could avoid $169 million in refrigerant replacement costs while preventing the annual emission of about 29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the EPA says. In 2014 alone, GreenChill partners, including the GreenChill awardees, prevented more than 8 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Also yesterday the EPA honored the following organizations with a GreenChill award:
- Best Corporate Emissions Rate: Stater Bros. Markets (San Bernardino, California) earned the Partnership’s most prestigious award for achieving the lowest refrigerant emissions rate among retail chains. Port Townsend Food Co-op (Port Townsend, Washington) received this award in the small-independent GreenChill partner category.
- Most Improved Emissions Rate: Brookshire Grocery Company (Tyler, Texas) was honored for achieving the Partnership’s largest refrigerant leak rate reduction compared to the year it joined the GreenChill Partnership. Harris Teeter (Matthews, North Carolina) earned this same recognition for lowering its emissions rate more than any other partner compared to the previous year.
- Goal Achievement: GreenChill’s four Superior Goal Achievement winners voluntarily set and achieved challenging refrigerant emissions reduction goals. Winners include Hannaford (Scarborough, Maine), Harris Teeter (Matthews, North Carolina), Hy-Vee (Des Moines, Iowa), and King Kullen (Bethpage, New York). Both Hy-Vee and King Kullen also earned Exceptional Goal Achievement awards for meeting a secondary, more ambitious refrigerant emissions reduction goal.
- Distinguished Partner: Food Lion (Salisbury, North Carolina) was honored for demonstrating extraordinary leadership and initiative in support of GreenChill’s mission.
GreenChill’s Store Certification Program recognized certain stores for meeting strict performance criteria that demonstrate their refrigeration systems have minimal impacts on the ozone layer and climate. GreenChill presented the following store certification awards:
- Best of the Best Award: The Sprouts Farmers Market store in Dunwoody, Georgia, was honored for being the first store in a warm region to install a refrigeration system that uses only carbon dioxide as the refrigerant. Carbon dioxide’s contribution to climate change is several thousand times smaller than many conventional refrigerants.
- Store Certification Excellence Award: Hillphoenix (Conyers, Georgia) and Sprouts Farmers Market (Phoenix, Arizona) earned awards for achieving more GreenChill Store Certifications than their peers over the past year.
- Store Re-Certification Award: Six stores were recognized for achieving GreenChill certification for five consecutive years: Sprouts Farmers Market in Thousand Oaks, California, Stater Bros. Markets in Carlsbad, Cathedral City, and Moreno Valley, California, Wegmans in Lanham, Maryland, and Whole Foods Market in Santa Rosa, California.