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Cool Times in Hotlanta

Atlanta is a good locale for this year’s Food Marketing Institute Energy & Store Development Conference. I say that because refrigeration is a key component of the conference -- as well it should be since refrigeration accounts for nearly 60% of a supermarket’s energy costs -- and Atlanta is a kind of refrigeration central; refrigeration manufacturers Hill-Phoenix, Hussmann and Kysor/Warren all have manufacturing facilities near Atlanta as does refrigeration controls supplier CPC Controls and HVAC provider Seasons 4. The headquarters for ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) is also in Atlanta.

Refrigeration will be front-and-center as the conference kicks off Monday morning with the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Partnership announcing its annual awards. These include the food retailer with the lowest refrigerant emissions rate – something that has enormous implications for that retailer’s bottom line as well as the atmosphere above its stores. (Look for the names of the winning companies Monday morning at A voluntary program, GreenChill has clearly helped its participating food retailers a great deal in improving their refrigeration systems and paving the way to more efficient and environmentally favorable systems. For all the criticism the federal government gets these days, GreenChill is an example of a federal program that works effectively for the business community as well as for the public at large.

Refrigeration will also be covered in a number of workshops at the conference featuring such retailers as Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, Stop & Shop and Sobeys. And after the conference ends Wednesday, I will be heading to Indianapolis for the second Refrigeration Roundtable hosted by SN and, a sister Penton Media publication. The retailers who will participate in the roundtable include Supervalu, Fresh & Easy, Raley’s, Sprout’s Farmers Market, and Lowe’s Markets.

Of course, the conference will delve into many other energy-related topics as well as store development issues. But refrigeration – something that distinguishes food retailers from other retails sectors -- will loom large.