Source Refrigeration & HVAC, Inc., Anaheim, CA, recently completed a major remodeling and expansion of the refrigeration systems at the Albertson’s grocery store in Carpinteria, CA, the first all-natural refrigerant store in the U.S.

The historic project is Supervalu's showcase project for the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge.

Source was selected based on its experience in providing turn-key installation and on-going service for advanced refrigeration systems.

“This project is a testament to SUPERVALU’s commitment to natural refrigerants and sustainability,” says Richard Heath, director of energy innovations and projects for SUPERVALU. “We selected Source because of their extensive experience in planning, phasing, installing, executing and sustaining mission-critical refrigeration and HVAC systems. Source’s commitment to system optimization and energy efficiency is very much in line with SUPERVALU’s overall sustainability efforts,” Heath says.

A project of this size required many resources, and much collaboration.

“Key to the success of a project like this is a strong partnership between all suppliers,” adds Heath. Source was part of a comprehensive team comprised of CTA Architects/Engineers, Hillphoenix, Mayekawa Manufacturing Company (makers of the ammonia rack), Aztec Energy Partners, and Eleven Western Builders, Inc.

Fred Stockert, Source’s director of construction, says the project was rather unique in that regard, as it brought together companies that are often competitors, with the common goal being a high quality, efficient, and safe installation.

Source’s participation was critical to many key stages in the project, including the design/review process, project phasing and scheduling, technology implementation, installation, operational review and validation, and operational/functional sustainability. Source assigned a quality team to the project.

Brad Person, senior vice president, operations, directed the team. Bryan Beitler, vice president of engineering was responsible for reviewing phasing loads, designs, system capacity validations of a phased remodel program, and key component and operations review.

Stockert planned and deployed resources to meet critical open-store customer expectations and safety needs. He also developed and implemented safety training and awareness involved with the application of the natural refrigerants used on the project — carbon dioxide (CO2) ammonia (NH3), and propane (R-290).

“The installation was continuously evaluated throughout the project much like a research and development project”, Stockert says. Since this was the first-ever all-natural refrigerant store installation, our EMS team guys had to explore several options when running the wire, to identify the most correct and efficient way it should be installed. The communication was great between all teams across the board.”

The all-natural design also included self-contained display cases that utilized propane as the refrigerant. Less than one pound of propane is used in these display cases. But even so, the utmost in safety training was provided to technicians.

“We had a representative from the case manufacturer come to the U.S. He trained the team that was installing the cases. He also trained about half of our southern California service team in anticipation of long-term service needs. We took the same approach with the CO2 and ammonia systems. I brought service teams in specifically to discuss how the CO2 and ammonia piping ran, the gas flow, and all safety precautions.”

Bob Burns, customer account lead, coordinated the internal Source resources and external project partners. Director of Energy Optimization Pete Cuneo reviewed and implemented the controls functions needed to efficiently operate the new system.

Director of Service Greg Thurston, developed and executed a service and preventative maintenance program to ensure store performance and operational sustainability. He also provided technician and resource training and information. Bryan Beitler says open communication between designers, electricians, installers and general contractor was essential in designing the system.

“There were a number of discussions on the exact configurations, with CTA, consulting engineers who were designing the refrigeration system, as well as the manufacturer of those systems,” Beitler says. “Source Refrigeration and HVAC provided input from a service, maintenance, and installation standpoint. Items had to be added based on the dialogue, to be able to balance, measure, or collect information that was necessary to evaluate the system operation, and to ensure that it can be serviced and maintained. It was designed as a collaborative effort.”

One challenge that was out of the norm in the supermarket world is that we were asked to run the CO2 cascade piping to the ammonia system in steel piping with industrial grade insulation. “Normally, a supermarket runs everything in copper. The fear was that the copper in contact with ammonia might eventually create a problem.”