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Source plays key role in first all-natural refrigerant store

SUPERVALU - Albertson's All-Natural Refrigerant Store

  • All-natural refrigerant rack
  • Rooftop unit with Source logo Refrigerant receiver in Albertson's store Refrigerant rack which utilizes CO2 and NH3 Refrigerant rack which utilizes CO2 and NH3
  • Interior of first all-natural refrigerant store Media and dignitaries gather outside newly-remodeled all-natural refrigerant store

All-Natural Refrigerant Store in California

When SUPERVALU decided to remodel their Albertson's grocery store in Carpinteria, Calif., Richard Heath, Director of Energy Innovations and Projects, took the opportunity to push the envelope and convert the refrigeration system to all-natural refrigerants. "This history making project is SUPERVALU's showcase project for the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge.The move to natural refrigerant solutions is eminent, and the right thing to do for the environment. This project gave us the opportunity to design, install and test the first all-natural refrigerant store in the US and learn in a real-world environment", said Heath. Given the nature of this project, Heath called on Source Refrigeration & HVAC based on its experience in providing turn-key installation and on-going service for advanced refrigeration systems.

"We selected Source because of their commitment to training a workforce for next-generation refrigeration and because of their executive level commitment to be involved with, and accountable for, the success of this history-making project," Heath added.

When asked about commitment and dedication to the project, Brad Person, Senior VP of Operations for Source, stated that "Projects of this scope and inherent uncertainty are very risky propositions in what has been a tough economy. But when you come across a historic opportunity to be part of the first all-natural refrigerant commercial retail project in the US with one of your valued long term partners, you don't hesitate to commit your organization and yourself!"

A project of this size required many resources and much collaboration. The Source team worked closely with the architects/engineers, equipment manufacturers and builders.

Source played a critical role in key stages of the project, including the design/review process, project phasing and scheduling, technology implementation, installation, operational review and validation, and operational/functional sustainability.

A safety training and awareness program involving the application of the natural refrigerants being used — carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia and propane — was developed and implemented by Source's Regional Construction Director, Fred Stockert.

The all natural design also included self-contained display cases that utilized propane as the refrigerant.These cases received on-site UL certification with Source working with the certifying agent to ensure all safety concerns were addressed. A representative from the case manufacturer came to the U.S. to train the teams on installation and long-term service. In addition to the Source team that installed this system, many other Source service teams were brought in for training on CO2 and Ammonia installation and operation.

In spite of the challenges faced and the number of teams that had to communicate, collaborate and cooperate, the installation was a tremendous success and the store opened as planned on July 25, 2012.

Since the system start-up and grand re-opening, Source has been working directly with the ammonia system OEM and the SUPERVALU team to develop a service plan similar to that of a conventional supermarket refrigeration system. This is a critical step in making this technology feasible for the supermarket industry.