Supermarkets chill out in a greener way

Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market lead way when it comes to reducing refrigerant emissions under GreenChill program.

Just when I thought I was getting in touch with the various industry-specific sustainability regulations, I've just been reading about another one: the GreenChill Partnership from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

This particular certification initiative is focused on the emissions and chemical management associated with retail refrigeration systems. The EPA estimate is that the typical supermarket leaks 1,000 pounds of harmful refrigerant gas into the atmosphere. The GreenChill program focuses on decreasing that amount; like many certification efforts it can be earned at three different levels, silver, gold and platinum. Approximately 20 percent of all the supermarkets in the United States (about 7,300) participate in the GreenChill program. Hmm, that's not a very high percentage, is it?

The latest store to earn the recognition is the Whole Foods Market in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The store has shaved 75 percent off the typical refrigerant emissions number, which resulted in a gold-level certfication.

Said Keilly Whitman, manager of the EPA GreenChill partnership:

"The Foggy Bottom Whole Foods Market is the one and only supermarket in the district to achieve GreenChill's tough store certification standards for refrigeration technology. The store's gold-level certification is proof to customers that Whole Foods takes ozone layer protection and climate change seriously. This sets a high standard of environmental performance for competitor stores."

In fact, Whole Foods Market just earned the EPA's Most Improved Emissions rate for managing a 17 percent reduction in refrigerant emissions in the past year. (This was the second time that Whole Foods has won that award.) For the second year in a row, the Sprouts Farmers Market earned the top award granted under the program, one for the best corporate emissions rate.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com