Overwaitea Food Group (OFG) of British Columbia has installed a Hill PHOENIX Advansor transcritical CO2 booster refrigeration system in its newest Urban Fare store in The Village on False Creek.

Urban Fare Express is one of only a handful of HFC (hydrofluorocarbons)-free grocery stores in Canada. Sources report this is the first Hill PHOENIX Advansor transcritical CO2 booster refrigeration system installed in North America.

HFCs have been the refrigerant of choice for decades in the supermarket industry. However, HFCs are a greenhouse gas and contribute to global warming. Increasingly, food retailers are moving toward more sustainable natural refrigerants including CO2. It takes 2000-4000 pounds of carbon dioxide to equal the global warming potential of just one pound of leaked HFC refrigerant.

When OFG chose The Village on False Creek as the location for its newest Urban Fare Express, the bar for sustainability was set high. As a leader in retail sustainability, OFG had already established aggressive goals for green operations in every area of its business, and The Village on False Creek is known as one of the most livable and sustainable communities in the world, having earned the highest level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED(R)) Platinum certification for a neighborhood of its size.

"We chose a transcritical CO2 booster system because it's 100% HFC-free," says Ralph Thiel, director, store planning & construction for Overwaitea Food Group LP. "We've seen a number of synthetic refrigerants phased out over the years, and with its high global warming potential, we expect that eventually the current HFC's will be phased out, too. CO2 transitions us to a natural refrigerant that we can live with in the future."

Aside from the green appeal of CO2, it's a much less expensive (less than $2 per lb. compared to $20 per lb.) alternative to HFC refrigerants. So why haven't more retailers made the switch? CO2 systems are still relatively new to supermarket applications. As companies like OFG demonstrate the advantages of CO2, industry acceptance will no doubt increase.

In addition to its move toward CO2, many OFG stores feature a variety of smart technologies designed to reduce energy consumption, including:

  • High-efficiency lighting with motion sensors in freezer cases
  • Energy reduced refrigeration systems
  • Energy efficient freezer doors
  • High-efficiency, programmable deli and bakery ovens
  • Waste-heat recovery systems
  • Building automation systems that adjust lighting, heating and air conditioning as needed.

"Recycling, sustainable seafood, reusable bags, energy-efficient stores and our efforts to be the number one supporter of local products and producers are just some of the ways we show our commitment to sustainability every day," says Carmen Churcott, vice-president, OFG.