ALDI store in Buffalo, N.Y., that uses transcritical CO2 refrigeration.
ALDI store in Buffalo, N.Y., that uses transcritical CO2 refrigeration.

ALDI and Walgreens Retrofit Two New York Stores with CO2 Systems in Disadvantaged Areas

The stores are seen as models for future sustainable refrigeration transitions in underprivileged communities.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the completion of two store projects that successfully demonstrate the use of CO2 (R744)-based refrigeration systems in disadvantaged communities as a replacement for climate-altering HFC refrigerants.

The projects at an ALDI US supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and a Walgreens drugstore in Islandia, New York, are “models for future commercial sustainable refrigeration transitions in supermarkets and drugstores in disadvantaged communities,” said the DEC announcement.

The ALDI store uses a transcritical CO2 system while the Walgreens outlet employs a CO2 condensing unit, according to industry sources.

“I applaud ALDI and Walgreens’ proactive approach to advance sustainable refrigeration in communities that are most vulnerable to environmental pollution,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

The projects are supported by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and were completed through a partnership with the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I).

Efficiency monitoring

According to the DEC, NYSP2I will conduct research and monitoring to compare pre- and post-installation efficiency and emissions data for ALDI. Sustainability considerations will also be monitored and analyzed by Walgreens, including the ability to achieve required temperatures, energy efficiency, maintenance, and ultimately total emission comparisons between equipment types. These studies are expected to be completed in 2024.

“The projects will help demonstrate New York’s efforts to address the upfront cost barriers of technology adoption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure food security,” the DEC said.

NASRC will also coordinate free technician training events at both sites to increase opportunities for the local technician workforce to learn about natural refrigerant equipment and systems.

We are transitioning to environmentally friendly natural alternatives across all of our stores by 2035 that will not only keep products fresh, but also reduce nearly 60% of potential carbon emissions each year, said Dan Gavin, Vice President of National Real Estate for ALDI.

“This project and similar projects completed in other parts of the country are a demonstration of our commitment to our roadmap for implementing lower global warming potential refrigerants and enhancing development of maintenance labor competency through commercialization and adoption of new technology,” said Greg Sisk, Engineering Manager, Store Planning & Design Development for Walgreens.

Consistent with New York’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), New York State adopted regulations in 2020 that limit HFCs in new equipment. These projects support the Climate Act requirements to reduce statewide emissions 85% by 2050 and ensure at least 35% of benefits, with a goal of 40%, are directed to disadvantaged communities.

In December 2023, DEC released an ambitious proposed rule to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from refrigerants, foams, and aerosol propellants. The draft regulation includes prohibitions, reporting, and other requirements regarding the sale, use, and supply of HFCs and new products and systems that contain HFCs to help achieve the required statewide greenhouse gas emission limits. The proposal also includes GWP limits of 10 for many new HVAC&R systems by 2034, which would and help foster the adoption of natural refrigerant-based applications.

“If finalized, the DEC’s current proposed regulation will help meet the state’s climate goals, provide national leadership, and predictability and clarity for industry,” said Dr. Richie Kaur, Non-CO2 Climate Pollution Reduction Advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The DEC is currently accepting comments on its proposed rule. Comments can be sent to Suzanne Hagell at climate.regs@dec.ny.gov, with “Comments on Part 494 HFC” in the subject line of the email, until 5 pm EDT on March 19, 2024. A public comment hearing on the proposed rule will be held via electronic webinar on March 13, 2024 at 2 pm EDT.

“This project and similar projects completed in other parts of the country are a demonstration of our commitment to our roadmap for implementing lower global warming potential refrigerants and enhancing development of maintenance labor competency through commercialization and adoption of new technology.”

Greg Sisk, Engineering Manager, Store Planning & Design Development for Walgreens

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