Fresh & Easy Goes Greener

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Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market is pushing the green envelope on two fronts: water conservation and refrigeration.

WATER: Fresh & Easy is working to reduce its use of what many predict will soon be the world’s scarcest natural resource—water. The supermarket chain has launched an ambitious plan to reduce water consumption in its stores by 30% through the use of eco-friendly water-conditioning technology.

The sustainable water-treatment system (from EnviroTower, Toronto) has been installed in some 37 locations to date, and Fresh & Easy plans to incorporate it into all new stores.

“Conserving water is a very important issue in California, Nevada and Arizona. We are happy to play our part in reducing our consumption of this valuable and limited resource,” said Steve Hagen, director of procurement and engineering, Fresh & Easy, which operates more than 163 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada, and is a division of Tesco.

Reducing water usage has been an ongoing goal for Fresh & Easy, whose refrigeration systems use roughly 850,000 gallons of water per year (similar refrigeration systems typically use 2 million to 3 million gallons of water per year, the company said). With the installation of the EnviroTower system, that usage has dropped to less than 600,000 gallons per year.

EnviroTower is designed as an effective and economical alternative to traditional chemical water treatment for refrigeration and air-conditioning cooling systems (up to 50% of a grocery store’s energy use and 80% of the water use consumption is from the refrigeration and cooling system, according to the company). It reduces fresh water use through a physical water-conditioning system, meaning water that is normally chemically treated and discharged to municipal sewage is used more efficiently. By keeping the water in the system clean and reducing harmful buildup, it also improves energy efficiency, lowering the amount of energy used on refrigeration by up to 5%.

REFRIGERATION: Fresh & Easy is using naturally occurring carbon dioxide (CO2) refrigeration in its new location in Rosemead, Calif. The sub-critical cascade CO2 refrigeration system, which is one of only four in the United States, reduces the impact of the store’s refrigeration on the ozone layer by about 70%, as compared with industry standards. By utilizing a natural refrigerant, the system has an approximately 50% lower global warming potential than traditional refrigerants.

Fresh & Easy’s partners in the project included Kysor/Warren, Columbus, Ga., the equipment manufacturer and designer of the system, and Source Refrigeration & HVAC, Anaheim, Calif., which handled store specific engineering and installation. Verisae, Minneapolis, provided the energy management system controlling the system. The company’s software will be used to help Fresh & Easy track energy use and operating costs.

The store earned a silver certification award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Partnership by meeting tough benchmarks for cutting emissions that harm the earth’s protective ozone layer and contribute to global warming. Fewer than 40 of the nation’s 35,000 grocery stores have received GreenChill Store Certification awards.

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