Food Lion Invests in Green

Food Lion LLC has long been on the leading edge of companies—supermarkets and otherwise—putting in place measures and initiatives aimed at conserving energy (its second-largest operating expense) and supporting environmental sustainability. The chain’s efforts have brought it widespread acclaim and industry honors, not to mention some impressive savings. Since 2000, Food Lion has reduced its energy consumption by more than 25%, a sales equivalent of nearly $1.34 billion, according to the retailer.

In line with its ongoing commitment to next-generation technologies, Food Lion is now testing advanced refrigeration systems from Hill PHOENIX in two new store locations: Dinwiddie and Montpelier, Va. In addition to offering significant sustainability benefits, the technology, called Second Nature, is expected to improve product quality.

“We take great pride in undertaking initiatives such as these, which will protect the environment and sustain the communities in which we operate for years to come,” said Glen Dixon, senior VP of corporate development, Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., a subsidiary of Brussels-based Delhaize Group, whose U.S. operations posted $17.3 billion in sales in 2006.

The Dinwiddie store opened in 2006 with a medium-temperature secondary-coolant system that uses water and glycol to refrigerate products.

The Montpelier store, opened early this year, is testing a low-temperature system featuring carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring gas, to refrigerate low-temperature food products. Both systems will be tested together in a third location, Portsmouth, Va., scheduled to open in early 2008.

The Second Nature systems used in the Food Lion stores are eco-friendly in that they require less refrigerant, a substance that is linked to climate change and ozone depletion. An important additional benefit is improved product quality due to less shock and moisture removal, which in turn yields longer shelf life.

In addition, the Second Nature systems reduce the amount of copper piping used. Where applicable, copper piping is replaced with state-of-the art engineered acrylonitrile buadiene styrene plastic piping, which, because it has far fewer seams than copper piping, decreases the chance of refrigerant leaking into the environment. The systems also require less maintenance than traditional direct-expansion systems.

More Than Expected

Food Lion is one of the first U.S. supermarket retailers to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Partnership, a new initiative in which companies commit to going above and beyond regulatory requirements in protecting the ozone layer and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The partnership is aimed at promoting the use of food-refrigeration technologies that reduce emissions of environmentally harmful refrigerants.

In joining GreenChill, Food Lion committed itself to requiring that all new and remodeled stores be ozone-friendly in advance of Clean Air Act phase-out requirements. (The United States is phasing out the use of HCFCs [hydrochloro-fluorocarbons], used in commercial refrigeration equipment, because of their role in depleting the ozone layer.)

In addition, the retailer pledged to establish a refrigerant inventory and set emissions-reduction targets, and collaborate across the industry to identify service and operational practices that reduce emissions. It also agreed to participate in a research initiative to assess the performance of cutting-edge green technologies in terms of energy efficiency, reduction of refrigerant charge, and minimization of refrigeration leaks.

The EPA estimates that the widespread adoption of best practices, improved equipment design and service, and advanced refrigeration technologies could reduce refrigerant emissions by 1 million metric tons of carbon equivalent per year, and save more than $12 million in operating expenses.

Since 1998, Food Lion and the EPA have worked in close partnership to push the retailer’s energy conservation efforts to increasingly higher levels. For the past four consecutive years, the EPA has recognized the chain with its Energy Star Sustained Excellence award.

Additionally, approximately half of the chain’s stores—some 600 out of 1,200—have earned the Energy Star label, a designation that indicates superior energy performance and management. Energy Star-designated buildings on average consume about 35% less energy than typical facilities, while providing comparable comfort. Food Lion has more Energy Star stores than any other U.S. retailer.