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hrai5oct7During the United Nations Climate Summit in late September in New York City, millions of schoolchildren marched in the streets in more than 1,000 cities to protest lack of action on climate breakdown. Greta Thunberg, their 16-year-old leader, was in New York at one of the ‘school strikes’ and later at the Summit, telling adults to stop acting like children.

Part of the event included Climate Week sessions that bring together UN, government, business and NGO leaders from around the world to discuss detailed programs such as building systems. This year’s Climate Week opening ceremonies included addresses from Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, the Honourable John Kerry (former USA Secretary of State and Senator), Governor Inslee (Washington State), Governor Newsom (California), quite a few top UN officials in the environment area, and numerous business leaders.

Refrigeration was a key theme and Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment said that about 50% of the world's food goes to waste, due to poor or unavailable refrigeration. California Governor Gavin Newsom said that in some areas near LA, leaking refrigeration gases are connected with high rates of asthma, cancer and poor fertility.

Some workshops were held under the “Cool Coalition” umbrella, which enables knowledge-sharing between corporate, government and environmental organizations. Speakers in these sessions predicted that demand for cooling would grow dramatically worldwide as population increases. If we can keep pace with provision of the cooling and refrigeration needed, it will prevent vaccine scarcity, food supply problems, and will save lives. The general message was that we cannot allow the leaking of old-style refrigerants to add to planetary heating. More refrigeration is needed fast, but not more HFCs. We must continue moving into natural refrigerants.

Thomas Lingard, Global Sustainability Leader from Unilever said his company, along with the makers of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola formed an alliance a few years ago, and recently adopted thousands of plug and play cabinets that use R290 propane refrigerant. Target and Walmart have also begun using them. In 2016 Guillaume Grolier, a commercial director for AHT Cooling Systems in France said, “We’re recording better energy efficiency results than with HFCs.” His company has been installing about 10,000 R290 cabinets each year in Europe.

Walmart opened its first store in the USA using C02 refrigeration in 2009 and has been adding stores since. By 2013 it was using a secondary loop refrigeration system that combines either carbon dioxide or glycol and HFCs in about 125 stores. In 2016 Walmart built a store in Guelph, Ontario and installed a C02 refrigeration system, heat reclaim and geothermal heating and cooling. It saves about $130,000 on energy each year compared to comparable Walmart stores.  Around the same time the company built a 450,000 square foot refrigerated distribution center near Calgary with a modern ammonia refrigeration system and other clean energy technologies. It saves about a million dollars on energy each year.

In 2015 Piggly Wiggly opened a 36,000-square-foot store in Columbus, Georgia using an ammonia/C02 refrigeration system. It employed an ultra-low 53 pounds ammonia charge and a CO2 charge of 1,400 lbs. It also saves about 25% on energy. Whole Foods, Albertsons and Raley’s are operating successful ammonia/ C02 systems. Whole Foods has at least 20 installations, and is also using the propane standalone units.

Many years ago similar systems from LMP Inc. were installed in a handful of Sobey’s stores in Quebec and Ontario. It’s a transcritical subcooling system, a process that increases the system's efficiency from about 6.5 BTU/watt to about 9.5 BTU/watt, and optimizes compressor performance.

 “We have children in the streets who want action,” said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. “We (construction professionals) must go from these rooms and spread the news…You’ve heard from our panelists about the economic benefits of sustainable systems. The laggards must be called out not just by Greta, but by us. Let’s design a better future for ourselves and for our young people.”