Earth-Friendly Glycol Helps Wegmans Stores Keep Their Cool

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Earth-Friendly Glycol Helps Wegmans Stores Keep Their Cool

Wegmans Food Market yesterday said it has seen strong environmental gains since it began installing coolers that use environmentally-friendly glycol in its stores 10 years ago.

More than a third of the grocer's 71 stores use food grade glycol as a non-polluting secondary refrigerant, which the grocer said helps reduce the stores' carbon footprints while protecting the ozone layer.

"We've calculated the environmental gains from using glycol in our cooling systems, and are very encouraged," said Carol Duquette, v.p. of design services and maintenance. 

According to Wegmans, a store using glycol instead of R-404a (an industry standard) eliminates 2,376 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions sent into the atmosphere per year, the equivalent of removing 435 cars from roadways and removing the power draw of 315 homes from the electrical grid.

In traditional cooling systems, R-404a circulates through pipes to medium temperature cases (such as the dairy case) throughout the store. In Wegman's system, R-404a is used only in compressors on the rooftop of the store and non-toxic glycol circulates throughout the piping in the store. This results in the stores' using less refrigerant, and there are fewer opportunities for leaks. 

Wegmans cited the following as the chief drivers to install the systems:
- Reduced negative impact on the ozone layer. 
- Glycol is non-toxic and safe to use in confined areas (walk-in coolers).
- The system has the greatest effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions of all Wegmans environmental initiatives, because it reduces use of standard refrigerants (CFC's and HCFC's).

To date, Wegmans has installed the systems in 25 stores, and plans to switch all stores to the new system in coming years, it said.

Wegmans operates 71 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.