Keeping food fresh is critical to world health. Refrigerants used in supermarket cooling equipment play a key role. But concerns over certain refrigerants’ global warming potential (GWP)—a refrigerant’s potential contribution to climate change—are rising.

There are several low-GWP options for supermarket owners and managers, refrigeration engineers, and contractors to consider that support compliance with climate regulations, safety, energy efficiency, and profitability.

This paper outlines options to aid in the decision-making process when choosing alternative refrigerants in commercial refrigeration equipment.

Regulations are being discussed and introduced globally that mandate leak reduction and reduced use of high-GWP refrigerants to mitigate the direct effect of refrigerant emissions. In some cases, there is a phase down of HFC supply, which offers the flexibility to choose which end-uses to transition first. In other cases, complete bans of very-high-GWP refrigerants have been proposed or implemented. And in other jurisdictions, a combination of regulatory structures is used. In short, the journey to a more environmentally preferable commercial refrigeration industry has proved to be an ambitious one, involving many policies and regulations in place across the globe that are driving the transition to alternatives. However, reducing the GWP of the refrigerant alone is not sufficient to address the climate impact of refrigeration systems; it also is important to consider the indirect impact related to the electricity consumption of the refrigeration system. Several lower-GWP refrigerant solutions that also maintain or improve existing energy efficiency performance are available.

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