PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Co-op was one of 13 companies recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as successfully working to reduce its refrigerant emissions.
The co-op won the award for Best Corporate Emissions Rate in the Small-Independent GreenChill partner category. This is the second year it’s won the award.
“We’ve found the best thing to do is act fast when there are any temperature changes in the refrigerator cases,” said Rene Tanner, the facilities manager for the co-op. “That and working with a contractor who responds quickly and technicians who can respond appropriately.”
The co-op currently contracts with Mayda &Sons Mechanical of Silverdale.
The GreenChill is an EPA partnership in which store owners can sign up and pledge to reduce their emissions. They submit reports each year and are rewarded based on their results.
“We signed up because we felt it was just something that was the right thing to do,” Tanner said. “It fit well within our environmental pledge as a co-op to keep our emissions down.”
The GreenChill program is made up of companies in the supermarket industry and includes 10,800 businesses representing small grocers such as the Port Townsend Co-op to national chains stores such as Target and WinCo, according to a news release from the EPA.
“Really, the program is meant for large chain grocers to try and get their emissions down,” Tanner said.
“It’s also to educate people about the issue. Grocery stores need refrigerators, and some of the chemicals needed for that can cause serious damage to the environment.”
According to the EPA, refrigerant leaks cost businesses roughly $169 million in refrigerant replacement costs. Each year the chemicals leaked, which are in a class of greenhouse gases scientists linked to climate change, is roughly the equivalent of 29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, equivalent to the emissions of about 6 million cars.
As a part of the GreenChill movement, Tanner said they would continue to try to reduce the number of refrigerant leaks they have each year — even if it’s only by one leak a year.
“Ideally you’d get it down to zero,” Tanner said. “That’s everybody’s dream number, but of course, that’s pretty much impossible.”
According to the EPA, companies like the co-op work to reduce their emissions by limiting chemical leaks, changing to more environmentally friendly refrigerant options and finding more efficient refrigerators.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at [email protected].