ATMO Awards
Winners of the ATMO Awards/North America 2024, from left: Cara Bastoni, Target; Nova-Aer Teale, Lineage Logistics; Brian Porter, Dorin; and Danielle Wright, NASRC

ATMO America: Target, Lineage Logistics, Dorin and Wright Win ATMO Awards

The awards, honoring excellence in the implementation of natural refrigerant-based systems, were presented during a ceremony on June 10 at the ATMOsphere America Summit.

ATMOsphere, publisher of and organizer of the the ATMOsphere (ATMO) America Summit 2024 on natural refrigerant-based cooling and heating, announced the winners of the ATMO Awards/North America for 2024 during a ceremony on June 10 at the Summit in Washington, D.C.

The awards honor excellence in the development and implementation of natural refrigerant-based HVAC&R systems. Awards were given in four categories:

  • Best-in-Sector/Retail End User – to Target; accepting the award was Cara Bastoni, Director of Engineering for Target.
  • Best-in-Sector/Industrial End User – to Lineage Logistics; accepting the award was Nova-Aer Teale, Director of Engineering for Lineage Logistics.
  • Innovation of the Year – to Dorin for its 160HP CO2 industrial compressor; accepting the award was Brian Porter, General Director of Dorin USA.
  • Person of the Year – to Danielle Wright, Executive Director for North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC)

The awards were based on industry nominations and other criteria. The Best-in-Sector awards were selected by ATMOsphere, which also prepared a shortlist of the Person of the Year and Innovation of the Year finalists. Online voting leading up to and at ATMO America determined the winner of the Person of the Year and Innovation of the Year awards.

Best-in-Sector/End Users

The Best-in-Sector awards are given to end users, one retail and one industrial, who have done the most to advance adoption of natural refrigerant-based systems.

Minneapolis-based Target, the 2024 Best-in-Sector/Retail End User winner, which operates almost 2,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, has become a leader in the use of natural refrigerant-based refrigeration as part of an aggressive greenhouse gas emissions-reduction program.

This has been manifested in a number of ways:

  • Target has installed transcritical CO2 (R744) refrigeration in more than 109 stores and plans to scale low-GWP refrigerants chain-wide by 2040.
  • Since 2016, Target has required all new stand-alone cases to use propane (R290) refrigerant, with over 22,000 systems installed to date.
  • All Target food distribution centers use ammonia (R717) refrigeration systems.
  • Target is an EPA GreenChill partner and has a 13% average HFC leak rate.
  • In 2022, Target retrofitted a Vista, California, location to become its first designed net-zero energy store and a model for the chain. The store, which uses transcritical CO2 refrigeration, generates renewable energy through 3,400 solar panels across its roof and carport canopies. The site was designed to produce up to a 10% energy surplus each year that it can transmit back to the local power grid. The store also powers its HVAC heating through rooftop solar panels instead of natural gas.
  • By 2030, Target is committed to achieving a 50% absolute reduction in operations GHG emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) from a 2017 base year.
  • Via its sustainability strategy called Target Forward, the retailer has committed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions enterprise-wide by 2040.

Novi, Michigan-based Lineage Logistics, the 2024 Best-in-Sector/Industrial End User winner, operates more than 450 cold-storage facilities around the world, including 40 in the U.S. As of last year, around 90% (3 million lbs/1.4 million kg) of its global refrigerant inventory was made up of ammonia, but f-gases were still used at 85 of Lineage’s locations around the world. However, it has launched a plan to convert those facilities to 100% natural refrigerants. Having grown through acquisitions, the vast majority of the company’s facilities are different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all system that can be implemented.

The plan includes:

  • Use ammonia, CO2, and other natural refrigerants as the first option for new builds, expansions, conversions; pilots have started in 2024.
  • Limit the use of non-natural refrigerants to only as the last option.
  • Energy-efficient design, operation and maintenance.

In September 2021, Lineage joined The Climate Pledge with the aim of becoming carbon net zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Climate Accord’s 2050 target. To achieve this goal, the company has established science-based targets for its Scope 1 (direct), Scope 2 (indirect – energy) and Scope 3 (indirect – value chain) emissions; scope 1 emissions reduction includes higher equipment efficiencies, better containment and refrigerant recovery, reclaim and recycling. This is outlined in its 2022 Sustainability Report.

For example, to decrease energy use and increase throughput associated with blast freezing and static storage methods, Lineage Logistics conducted research into the ideal time-to-freeze for optimized energy use and actual freezing time. In its Portsmouth, Virginia, facility, its new blast freezing method reduced the average blast time from 72 to 24 hours.

Lineage also uses “flywheeling” to predicts when electricity demand will be highest and then cools warehouses to a lower-than-normal temperature in advance, avoiding peak energy charges and alleviating the demand load on the electrical grid.

Innovation of the Year

The Innovation of the Year award is given to the company that has produced a natural refrigerant-based product that has had, or is expected to have, a significant impact on the market.

The shortlist of candidates for the award consisted of Hillphoenix’s ChargeSecure system, Copeland’s Vilter-branded industrial CO2 compressor unit that uses single-screw compressors, Dorin’s 160HP CO2 industrial reciprocating compressor and Evapco’s VersaSplit ammonia-based condensing unit with up to six remote evaporators.

Part of its CD600 range, Dorin’s 160HP CO2 industrial reciprocating compressor, the 2024 Innovation of the Year winner, comes with six cylinders and offers 4,237ft3/h (120m3/h) at 60Hz and a capacity of 68.3TR (240kW) for typical medium-temperature applications, with frequency drive capability. Previous models covered up to 90HP and 2,506ft3/h (70m3/h) at 60Hz.

The compressor maintains the same footprint as smaller models with a higher COP and is a cost-effective way to scale up the refrigeration duty with a single rack and no modifications to the rack design.

With its CD600 range of compressors, Dorin “sets a new benchmark for industrial [transcritical CO2] applications, allowing [R744] to be one of the most cost-effective and efficient solutions when it comes to large [capacities],” the company said.

Person of the Year

 The Person of the Year Award honors a single individual who has done the most to advance the adoption of natural refrigerant technology in HVAC&R applications in North America.

The shortlist of candidates for the award consisted of Danielle Wright, Executive Director for North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC); Scott Martin, Senior Director of Industry Relations and Compliance for Hillphoenix; Kurt Liebendorfer, Vice President of Evapco; and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) team of Avipsa Mahapatra, Director, Climate Campaign; Christina Starr, Senior Manager, Climate; and Beth Porter, Senior Climate Policy Analyst.

Wright, the 2024 Person of the Year, leads the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), a nonprofit that helps the supermarket industry in North America overcome the barriers to the adoption of natural refrigerant-based refrigeration systems. Since becoming Executive Director of the NASRC in 2017, Wright has worked to expand the group’s membership, scope and impact considerably. Its members now include over 160 organizations from every sector of the commercial refrigeration industry, including more than 55,000 food retail locations.

Among the NASRC’s activities are:

  • Coordinating funding to offset the upfront costs of natural refrigerant technologies: NASRC has become a third-party administrator for the California Air Resources Board’s F-gas Reduction Incentive Program (FRIP). The program aims to reduce high-GWP emissions by incentivizing the adoption of climate-friendly –particularly ultra-low GWP (GWP less than 10) – technologies. NASRC also works with New York State on its grant program to replace HFC refrigeration.
  • Training: NASRC has launched a successful Technician Training Program on the latest natural refrigerant technologies for refrigeration technicians with a series of training events in three states. More than 1,600 people have attended the events, with over 900 technicians and more than 370 HVAC&R students and faculty. The organization also now offers private small-group, vendor-neutral courses.

NASRC also advises government agencies on policy and technical applications and contributes to industry best practices, standard and codes.

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