Neelands Group and Longo Brothers Fruit Markets


Longo’s retail grocery stores in Ajax, Guelph and Milton, Ontario



This project demonstrated the performance of a CO₂ (‘natural’) refrigeration system in two newly constructed Longo’s grocery stores in Ontario (Ajax and Guelph) compared to an existing Longo’s store (Milton) that uses a conventional (‘synthetic’) hydro-chlorofluoro-carbon (HFC) refrigerant.

All three stores are almost identical with factors normalized to allow for data comparison. The analysis compared refrigerant leak losses, electrical performance and heat reclaim performance of the CO₂ refrigeration systems to the HFC system. The two CO₂ refrigerant systems utilized Neeland’s proprietary Optimizer software to improve maintenance and overall system performance.

Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a coefficient that identifies a substance will have on global warming over a 100-year period. The number is relative to the GWP of CO₂, which has a GWP of 1.

The most common refrigerant currently used in grocery stores in Canada is R404a, a type of HFC. For every 1 kg of R404a that is released to the atmosphere, it is equivalent to releasing 3,922 kg’s of CO₂.


The main finding was that GHG emissions were greatly reduced from the use of a CO₂ refrigeration system largely due to the reduced GHG impact of CO₂ leaks versus HFC leaks. At the Milton store (the baseline situation), GHG emissions from HFC refrigerant leak losses were estimated to be equivalent to approximately 283,000 kilograms (kg) of CO₂e. By comparison, the Guelph and Ajax stores had only 33 kg and 100 kg actual CO₂e emissions respectively, (i.e., more than 99.97 percent reduction).

Overall, BLOOM estimates the cumulative GHG reductions over a 10-year period are 137,760 tonnes in Ontario and 444,144 tonnes in Canada, based on a one percent annual market adoption rate.

Electricity consumption (kWh) at the two CO₂ refrigeration stores was found to be considerably less than the baseline HFC store, with the Guelph and Ajax stores consuming approximately 25 percent and 23 percent respectively less electricity than the Milton store on the refrigeration systems.


Longo's CO2 Refrigeration System

CO₂ Refrigeration System

As part of Longo’s commitment to sustainability, it is planning to install CO₂ refrigeration systems in all future new stores. It is currently building a new store in Stouffville, Ontario, that will use CO₂ refrigeration system as part of an overall store goal to achieve a near net-zero rate of electricity consumption.

In terms of broader market adoption across Ontario’s grocery retail sector, higher up-front capital costs for CO₂ systems are expected to act as a continued barrier. Depending on store design, component features, geographic region and other factors, this ‘price premium’ can vary and be 20 percent to 40 percent higher with paybacks broadly estimated in the 10 to 20 year range.

On the other hand, there are mitigating factors that can support adoption, including lower operating and maintenance costs (e.g., refrigeration costs for CO₂ are typically around nine times less expensive than HFCs and maintenance costs can be 10 percent lower over the useful operating life); a 20 percent smaller footprint for CO₂ systems that can free up floor space; and corporate sustainability goals and drivers such as Longo’s.

The other major driver is ‘future proofing’ for regulatory risk. The Canadian government has enacted legislation to aggressively phase-down HFC refrigerant allowances in accordance with international targets (the Montreal protocol). By 2036, regulated companies are required to reduce HFCs by 15 percent of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) from a 2014/15 baseline.

The upcoming phase-out of HFC refrigerants acts as an incentive for companies to transition to CO₂ systems, which in turn should reduce the capital costs.

For more information about the demonstration project contact:

Kevin Jones, President and CEO