Urban Fare Express Installs First Advansor System

When Overwaitea Food Group (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®) Platinum certification for a neighborhood of its size.

OFG is once again setting a benchmark for green retail practices by installing an Advansor by Hill PHOENIX transcritical CO2 booster refrigeration system in its False Creek store. Urban Fare Express is one of only a handful of HFC (hydrofluorocarbons) -free grocery stores in Canada, and this is the first Advansor transcritical CO2 booster refrigeration system installed in North America.

OFG began experimenting with CO2 refrigeration systems in 2010. This followed a long history of commitment to the environment starting with its first Environmental Stewardship Award nearly 20 years ago.

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,” said Carmen Churcott, vice-president, OFG.

The HFC-free store of the future

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.

“We chose a transcritical CO2 booster system because it’s 100 percent HFC-free,” said 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.”

Advansor Transcritical CO2 Booster System Advantages

  • The Advansor transcritical CO2 booster system utilizes CO2 as the only refrigerant covering both medium-temp and low-temp loads.
  • CO2 has a high temperature heat of rejection, making it ideal for hot water heat reclamation applications and efficient hot gas defrosting.
  • CO2 systems operate under much higher pressures than conventional HFC-based systems. Many CO2 systems require steel piping throughout and carry a higher risk of pressure-related system breakdowns. The Advansor system eliminates those concerns by perfecting the use of pressure reducing valves so that everything inside of the store operates under lower pressure, as it would with an HFC-based system. Contractors can use copper piping and retailers can rest easy knowing that their Advansor system maintains pressures within a range normally found in traditional DX systems. OFG’s Urban Fare Express has a back-up auxiliary condensing unit on a back-up generator in case of power failure. The smaller condensing unit cools the CO2 and keeps the pressure low to prevent the loss of CO2.
  • Hill PHOENIX R&D capabilities ensure that CO2 technology is a viable option for every merchandising configuration. From walk-ins to custom specialty cases, Advansor technology is available across all Hill PHOENIX divisions.

Retrofitting challenges become green opportunities

Construction of the 23,000 square-foot Urban Fare Express entailed retrofitting a former Olympic Village structure to accommodate a grocery store and all of its associated systems. One particular challenge included putting the gas cooler in the parkade. Such a configuration had to include special sound attenuating mufflers and ducts to move hot air outside of the garage structure.

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.

“Our company is dedicated to CO2 in all new stores in urban settings and any location where there is a population base with enough tradesmen to be trained on CO2 technologies,” said Thiel.

Starting this year, Advansor by Hill PHOENIX transcritical CO2 booster systems are manufactured in the Hill PHOENIX’s Conyers, Ga. facility. They are currently building and shipping to supermarkets throughout North America.

by Hill PHOENIX Transcritical CO2 Booster System in North America

About Overwaitea Food Group

The Overwaitea Food Group is a leading retail grocery chain in British Columbia and Alberta. OFG currently operates more than 124 stores under the Save-On-Foods, Overwaitea Foods, Cooper’s Foods, Urban Fare, PriceSmart Foods and Bulkley Valley Wholesale banners and employs more than 13,000 team members.

About Hill PHOENIX and Advansor by Hill PHOENIX

Hill PHOENIX Inc., a Dover Company, is based in Conyers, Ga. The company designs and manufactures commercial refrigerated display cases and specialty products, refrigeration systems, integrated power distribution systems and walk-in coolers and freezers. Visit www.hillphoenix.com or call 800-283-1109 for more information.

Hill PHOENIX acquired Denmark-based Advansor A/S in 2011. The Danish company specializes in the design and manufacture of HFC-free, CO2 transcritical booster refrigeration and heat pump systems for supermarkets and light industrial applications. Advansor and Hill PHOENIX combined have more than 600 CO2 systems operating in supermarkets in the United States, Europe and Canada, making them the most experienced manufacturer of CO2 refrigeration systems in the world.

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