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The Zero Zone Crystal Merchandiser® is more than a display case to keep your products cold, it is used to show off your product’s best features. The Crystal Merchandiser® is best used for floral displays, produce, dairy, deli, wine, beverages, ice cream, and frozen foods. The versatility of the Crystal Merchandiser® does not end with what can be displayed, but how its contents can be displayed.

What is a Small Format Store?

Small-format stores are usually less than 25,000 ft2 and require less than 30 tons of refrigeration capacity. Typically, these stores are convenience stores, small grocery stores, and pharmacies. Due to their size, Small-format stores do not have the space or lease agreement to install the large rack units that are favored by Large-format retailers. Another complication is how the small-format store needs to be organized for the display cases to fit.

Why CO2?

Many countries including the US are phasing out the use of high-GWP synthetic refrigerants, and stricter environmental regulations are being enforced. Embracing CO2 makes this a future-proof solution as it ensures compliance with these evolving regulations, avoiding penalties and legal complications.

CO2 is nonflammable and nontoxic, and it is a low-cost refrigerant. The recent advent of high-pressure, iron-impregnated copper has allowed the traditionally stainless-steel piping to transition to familiar brazed copper piping, further improving value and simplifying repairs.

Is CO2 Right for your Small Format Store?

CO2 is also a low-cost refrigerant. Most synthetic refrigerants can cost upwards of $20 per lb, whereas the current price of CO2 is around $3 per lb. CO2 systems require smaller copper pipes than other refrigeration systems, which decreases the installation costs. CO2 systems also have excellent energy efficiency, minimizing the operation cost. It’s high density and low viscosity increase coil efficiency, allow for smaller line sizes, and take advantage of smaller compressors.

Although everyone with a CO2 system can enjoy its benefits, small-format stores can go a step further. Since small-format refrigeration systems require less refrigerant, they do not require heat removal through air conditioning. This means the heat reclaim can be used for space heating, dehumidification, commercial kitchens, and restrooms.

Zero Zone knows that one size does not fit all. Our Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Systems can be tailored for small format stores with the following products.

Indoor Parallel Systems

Outdoor Parallel Systems

Distributed Refrigeration Systems

 

 

 

 

Here are some case studies of using Zero Zone’s CO2 Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Systems in small format stores:

A common myth surrounding CO2 as a refrigerant is that it can only be used in certain climates. This is true only for certain types of CO2 systems. Transcritical CO2 systems can only be used in cooler climate zones. Subcritical CO2 systems can be used in any climate zone. At Zero Zone, we have a solution for natural refrigerants in any climate.

Are You Ready for Zero Zone’s Genesys™ CO­2 System?

To start a project or learn more about how Zero Zone can help, contact one of our sales representatives.

 

What is the AIM Act?

The American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM Act) was passed in 2020 by bipartisan support in the U.S Congress as the United States joined the global movement to reduce human impact on climate change. The AIM Act directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the phasedown of HFC refrigerant production and consumption in an effort to transition to alternative refrigerants. The AIM Act includes a phasedown schedule that began in 2022 and continues to 2036.

The new rule prohibits the manufacture and import of self-contained products that use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The rule also prohibits the sale, distribution, and export of products three years after the manufacture and import restriction. Finally, it prohibits the installation of new refrigeration air conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) systems that contain HFCs. The compliance dates of these new rules vary based on sector and subsector.

Who does the AIM Act refer to?

The final rule states, “Entities that manufacture, import, export, sell, distribute, or install systems or products that use HFCs in refrigerants and air-conditioning equipment systems, heat pumps, foams, and aerosols may be affected by this new rule. Restrictions apply to original equipment manufacturers, product distributors, retailers, and companies that direct the installation of new RACHP systems.”

Important definitions

The final rule makes a distinction between products and systems. Certain products and the installation of certain systems have different restrictions.

product is functional upon leaving a factory. Examples of products include self-contained refrigerators and self-contained ice machines. The EPA is restricting the sale, distribution and export of products containing higher-GWP HFCs three years after the manufacture and import restriction dates.

system is assembled and charged in the field using multiple components. An example of a system is a supermarket refrigeration system that include a centralized compressor room.  Components include equipment such as compressors, condensers, and display cabinets. There is not a restriction on the manufacture, import, sale, distribution, or export of components that are used to repair existing systems.

When will the phasedown start?

Self-Contained Configuration

 

Remote Configuration

Notes:

  1. Industrial Process Refrigeration (IPR) systems are used to cool process streams at a specific location in manufacturing and other industrial processes (e.g., chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and manufacturing industries).
  2. Refers to the Zero Zone Hybrid™ display cases and rack condensing units (Edge XT).
  3. Refers to Zero Zone’s Highlight®, Crystal®, and Reveal® display cases and their associated systems.

Why was the AIM Act proposed and passed? 

The AIM Act addresses petitions from industry, environmental organizations, and state governments to restrict the use of HFCs. The EPA has estimated the potential benefits of this rule will provide savings to American consumers and industry through energy efficiency and lower-cost refrigerants. The EPA stated that this rule will also result in greenhouse gas emissions reduction benefits.

  • EPA estimations:
    • Emission reduction of 876 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through 2050.
    • $50.4 billion in climate change mitigation benefits
    • $4.5 billion in cost savings to consumers and businesses driven by the lower cost of HFC substitutes and increased energy efficiency of lower-GWP refrigerants

For our customers

This rule does not restrict Zero Zone customers from using their existing refrigeration systems. The EPA has allowed an existing system to continue its operation to the end of its useful life. The systems may be serviced and repaired throughout their use, including replacing components. Components needed for repair are allowed to continue being manufactured.

For new installations, the equipment needs to be charged before the compliance dates. The following actions are considered a new installation:

  • Assembling a system for the first time from used or new components;
  • Increasing the cooling capacity, in BTU per hour, of an existing system; or
  • Replacing 75 percent or more of evaporators (by number) and 100 percent of the compressor racks, condensers, and connected evaporator loads of an existing system.

Into the Future: Refrigerant Management

Although a system can be serviced until the end of its useful life, the refrigerants used to recharge it will become scarce as production slows. The costs of synthetic refrigerants are expected to rise. The EPA is currently working on a standard for refrigerant reclamation and requirements for reclaimed HFC refrigerants. They are proposing that as of January 1, 2028, reclaimed refrigerant must be used when servicing and/or repairing refrigerant-containing equipment. This includes supermarket systems and stand-alone retail food refrigeration.

If you have questions about these regulations, please contact Zero Zone and ask to speak to our Director of Regulatory Compliance & Refrigeration Technology, Bruce Hierlmeier.

How can Zero Zone Help?

At Zero Zone, we’ve always been green. Zero Zone offers sustainable refrigeration solutions with Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Solutions. If you want to learn about our offerings and plans for these new regulations, contact our sales team or visit Zero Zone’s Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Solutions webpage.

View the infographics for our Retail and Industrial customers for a summary of important facts and dates.

Load Requirements & Challenges

Private label juice manufacturer Citrus Systems, Inc. specializes in pasteurizing an extensive line of juices and fruit drinks. The business provides juice to local dairies, grocery stores, and institutional customers. Their success and future contracts led them to build a new facility that was twice as large as their previous location. This presented some challenges for their refrigeration needs.

The Zero Zone Solution

The refrigeration systems were designed to provide trouble-free, energy-efficient operation for their production process. Zero Zone included features and technology to match the needs of pasteurization plants, such as multiple chilling circuits, industrial PLC controls, and evaporative condensing with variable speed fan control. A heat reclaim system off the compressor discharge circuit reduces both electric and natural gas demand by repurposing heat for hot water used throughout the production facility.

Being able to guarantee that the system always maintains temperature is essential for their HACCP program. To monitor operation and communicate any alarm conditions, Citrus Systems needed a remote diagnostics system connected to the refrigeration equipment. Consistency and dependability are essential in the pasteurization and food processing industries to protect the quality of the final product.

A Satisfied Customer

Thomas E. Boehland, founder and president of Citrus Systems, takes great satisfaction in how everything came together, describing the equipment as “a work of art.” He praised the Zero Zone team: “You can tell that there is a lot of pride in what they put together. It isn’t just a bunch of refrigeration components that are cobbled together on-site to get the job done. It’s a nice package and you can tell just looking at it. The factory people take pride in it and even sign off on the equipment with each individual person putting their names to it. You don’t see that very often these days.” Boehland concluded by saying, “I’ve put my faith in Zero Zone to do what we need to be done.”

Contact our sales team to get started on your next refrigeration journey.

Read more in the full case study: “An Industrial Work of Art.

At Zero Zone, the gold standard is a crystal: a Crystal Merchandiser®. These reach-in display cases have served retailers across every application: beverage, dairy, deli, meat, produce, and frozen food. To understand why, let’s look at 5 reasons that retailers love the Crystal Merchandiser®.

#1: Excellent Energy Efficiency

Up to 84% less energy than open multi-decks

Up to 45% less energy than other reach-in coolers

We know what matters most of all, and that is profit and cost. The Crystal Merchandiser® is the clear choice for maximizing profit while minimizing operating cost. These cases were engineered for excellent energy efficiency, especially against open multi-deck cases (up to 84% less energy) and even against other reach-in coolers (up to 45% less energy).

A retailer’s vice president of facilities and equipment said, “The energy savings are what really make you stop and say, ‘I need to take a serious look at this’. Then you start getting into things that become more apparent once you have the cases in—the comfort in the aisle, how great the product labels appear from the LED lighting—all of those subsequent advantages.”

#2: 74″ Tall CoolView® Doors

Not only do Zero Zone cases have excellent energy efficiency, but they are energy efficient while also having some of the largest doors in the industry. These 74″ tall doors open up the Crystal Merchandiser® to shoppers, making it easy for them to see products and make their selection.

Our 30″ wide CoolView® Illusion® doors for our low-temperature cases are known for glass that goes all the way to the edge of the door, giving the impression that the case is open even when the door is closed. The effect is most dramatic for a lineup of cases where the aisle will look like a wall of enticing product. Shoppers may be under the illusion that the door is not even there.

Crystal Merchandiser® Low Temp RVLC30 with CoolView® Illusion® Doors

The medium-temperature cases use CoolView® Ultra™ doors, which are notable for their broad display and slender frames. These are available as either 24″ wide French-swing doors or as 30″ wide single-swing doors. This lets retailers pick the right door to fit their merchandising strategy and store planogram.

#3: More Facings & More Packout

With taller doors comes increased product facings: up to 35% more facings than other display cases. In addition, the Crystal Merchandiser® also offers more merchandising space with 6 full shelves, which means up to 25% more packout. “We are able to get an entire case of 6-packs out as well as 3 12-packs on each shelf,” a liquor store manager noted. “You might think that with 6 shelves instead of 5, it might be more difficult for the consumer to pull product off of the shelving, but it has actually been easier.”

For even more space, take a look at the Zero Zone Deep cases, which allows you to fit 4 30-packs of 12 oz. cans in the bottom basket.

Crystal Merchandiser® Medium Temp RVMC30D Deep Case

Extra space can be valuable in any department in a store. Another store manager said, “In the yogurt section, with the old open cases that weren’t self-feeding, you would have to restock after you sold 6 units—or pull it all forward. But in this situation, you fill it once, you go back in mid-day and refill it. I mean, the labor savings is astronomical—about an hour and a half a day. That’s one of the ways we’ve been able to cut some inefficiencies.”

#4: More Efficient Use of Floor Space

Part of the genius of the Crystal Merchandiser® is that in addition to offering more facings and packout, the case actually uses less floor space within stores. The Crystal Merchandiser® is only 39 1/2″ from the back of the case to the front of the door handle. It is up to 7″ narrower than multi-deck cases. This allows retailers to use that space elsewhere or to simply have wider aisles, which shoppers appreciate.

#5: Reduced Shrink & Increased Shelf Life

The Crystal Merchandiser® also helps stores by reducing product shrink and increasing shelf life, which is especially pertinent to meat departments and produce departments.

In the words of a meat department manager, “Are the products holding up better? Absolutely! There’s no question it’s enhanced the shelf-life of the products.” The manager also reported that the meat held its vibrant, fresh color longer. A meat cutter told us, “It actually preserves the meat longer, gives it more life. It’s better for the customer; they get a fresher product. It’s better for us, as a company; we save more money, and we sell more, too.”

This benefit carries over to the produce department. Anything you put in the Crystal Merchandiser® stays fresh and beautiful longer. Spoilage is down, and shoppers take home produce that is fresher. As a produce department manager told us, “Since we began using the Crystal Merchandiser®, our shrink on bagged salad and cut fruit has been reduced by as much as 50%. The consistent temperature is the key.”

Are You Ready?

Have you fallen in love with the Crystal Merchandiser® too? Now is the time to contact the Zero Zone sales team to choose the Crystal Merchandiser® for your next store.

It is time to go back to the beginning. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3) have always been in our environment, and they have also always been in the story of refrigeration with both being used as refrigerants in the 1800s. Their use declined with the advent of synthetic refrigerants, but now the AIM Act and upcoming EPA rules will propel the industry away from environment-damaging HFC refrigerants and toward low global warming potential (GWP) options. Today, natural refrigerants are a rising option for refrigeration again.

That is why Zero Zone presents Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Solutions. It is time to return to the beginning—the genesis—of refrigeration with CO2 (R-744) and ammonia (R-717) systems. CO2 and ammonia are the gold standard for ozone depletion potential (ODP) and global warming potential (GWP). Neither are ozone depleting (0). CO2 has a GWP of 1—which is because it is used as the baseline for that scale—and ammonia has a GWP of 0. For performance, CO2 is known for its high cooling capacity, and ammonia has a reputation for excellent energy efficiency. Natural refrigerants are a future-proof solution that exceeds modern sustainability goals, allowing customers to make the best choice for themselves and for the environment. Natural refrigerants are the natural choice.

Upcoming EPA regulations will end the use of most HFC refrigerants by 2025, which means today is the day to choose Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Solutions for your next project. For more information about the Genesys™ CO2 systems, watch our video: https://youtu.be/EhWdvmdlUjA and learn more at https://www.zero-zone.com/natural-refrigeration-solutions/.

The American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM Act) directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the transition to alternative refrigerants by phasing down the production and consumption of HFC refrigerants. The EPA has published a proposed rule that will prohibit the manufacture of equipment containing HFCs by 1/1/2025 and prohibit the sale of those products by 1/1/2026.

Which states are affected?

This rule would apply to the entire country, which would finally bring alignment across the country instead of state-by-state regulations. States will still be able to issue their own, more stringent regulations, and some states will still require attention, such as California and New York.

Which refrigerants are affected?

This rule proposes to restrict the use of refrigerants by their global warming potential (GWP). Generally speaking, equipment that uses more than 200 lbs. of refrigerant will be subject to a GWP limit of 150, and equipment that uses less than 200 lbs. of refrigerant will be subject to a GWP limit of 300. Chiller systems will be subject to a GWP limit of 700.

These GWP limits will end the use of refrigerants such as R-404A (GWP of 3943), R-407A (GWP of 1923), R-410A (GWP of 1924), R-448A (GWP of 1273), R-449A (GWP of 1282), and R-507 (GWP of 3985) in new equipment. Going forward, refrigeration equipment will need to use natural refrigerants, such as CO2 (GWP of 1) and ammonia (GWP of 0), and HFO-based refrigerants since there are options below the proposed GWP limits.

When will the rule be finalized?

Currently the proposed rule is available for comments until 1/30/23. The proposed rule will be finalized in October 2023. We do not expect the GWP limits to change, but the implementation date might get pushed back to help manufacturers and end users complete existing projects. Industry leaders are also asking for clarification about how the implementation dates are defined, and for clarification about how “new projects” will be defined compared to retrofit or remodel projects.

Further Reading

Zero Zone has a new paper, “The National Plan for Refrigerant Regulations,” which has more information about the upcoming EPA regulations, which states will still have regulations to follow, and solutions that Zero Zone offers.

To know where we have come from, Zero Zone has a paper, “The State of Refrigerant Regulations,” which covers state regulations that affected the United States from 2019 through 2024.

The proposed rule and a succinct fact sheet are available on the EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/climate-hfcs-reduction/technology-transitions.

If you have questions about these regulations, please contact Zero Zone and ask to speak to our Director of Regulatory Compliance & Refrigeration Technology. If you want to learn about our offerings and plan for these regulations, contact our sales team.

The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC) recently published a factsheet outlining the impact that natural refrigerants could have on supermarket refrigeration. We want to help circulate this factsheet so people will not miss this valuable resource and reminder of the benefits of natural refrigerants. The NASRC is an organization dedicated to advocating for natural refrigerants. In their words, “Natural refrigerants are the climate-friendly solution to mitigate supermarket HFC emissions.”

Zero Zone offers natural refrigerant systems using CO2 or ammonia. Our equipment is used in both commercial and industrial settings, ranging from 5 tons to 500 tons. Our Natural Refrigerant Systems product sheet demonstrates the variety of systems we have designed and put into service. We have CO2 and ammonia system solutions to meet various requirements for cold storage, food processing, pharmaceutical operations, and supermarkets. We can incorporate secondary glycol loops, air-cooled or water-cooled condensing, heat reclaim systems, and more.

We offer CO2 subcritical and CO2 transcritical systems. CO2 systems can be indoors or outdoors, set up inside custom electrical mechanical centers (CEMCs), built as full racks or condensing units, and be part of booster systems and cascade systems. This versatility unlocks CO2 as a viable solution for warm and cool climates for all sorts of customers, and Zero Zone has been shipping these systems across the United States with great results.

Ammonia is a great choice for industrial customers and ice arenas. Low-charge ammonia systems can be utilized indoors, outdoors, and in CEMCs. We have many years of experience and knowledge in ammonia, and we are ready for your project.

With increasing EPA regulation limiting the continued use of HFC refrigerants, Zero Zone is eager to assist you with deciding which natural refrigerant system would be best adapted to your specific application. Begin a conversation with us. Contact your local Zero Zone sales rep today.

Pictured: CO2 Transcritical Outdoor Parallel System (OPS)

Do you love working with your hands? Now is the time to join our growing Zero Zone team. Current openings include both office and production positions, with leadership opportunities available.

You will be a valued member of the Zero Zone team, able to take ownership of your own career path. Gain access to professional development through internal training and tuition reimbursement. Enjoy wellness incentives, casual dress code, free coffee, and a comprehensive benefits package. Our people are known for excellent customer service, and we believe they are the best coworkers, too. We want to join you in your career goals.

We have opened a new manufacturing facility in Dyersville, Iowa, to meet the demand for quality refrigeration systems. For over 60 years, we have been a leader in refrigeration from our locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and now in Iowa. We have grown through dedication to our mission: “To exceed customer expectations through innovation, quality, and responsiveness.”

Zero Zone is growing. Come grow with us.

What is the best refrigerant for my system? As government regulations push the industry away from high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants towards low GWP options, now is the right time for natural refrigerants. Zero Zone natural refrigerant systems provide the solutions you need to meet your objectives and government regulations. A couple recent projects include a CO2 transcritical system for Rufus Brubaker Refrigeration and an ammonia chiller for Air Management Technologies.

System Facts: 200-Ton CO2 Transcritical System

  • Customer: Rufus Brubaker Refrigeration
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Application: Process refrigeration
  • System Type: Parallel system located indoors
  • Capacity: 150 tons used for medium temp, 50 tons used for low temp
  • Features: Parallel compression, adiabatic gas cooler, hot gas defrost
  • Energy Savings: Heat reclaim for facility water

CO2 refrigerant (R-744) grows increasingly important to the refrigeration industry as a natural replacement for high GWP refrigerants. Improvements to CO2 transcritical technology make CO2 feasible and reliable in more regions, including Pennsylvania where this new system is located. CO2 compressor discharge offers high-quality heat that can be repurposed through a heat reclaim system. Rufus Brubaker’s customer uses that reclaimed heat for their facility’s warm water.

John Collins, Industrial Sales Manager – East for Zero Zone, commented that “Rufus Brubaker is a longtime customer of Zero Zone. When they made the decision to pursue CO2 refrigeration for their customer, they came to Zero Zone as a trusted partner to deliver a successful project. Our team worked closely with Rufus Brubaker all the way through design concept, fabrication, installation, and start-up to assure a smooth project delivery and satisfied end user.”

System Facts: 150-Ton Ammonia Chiller

  • Customer: Air Management Technologies
  • State: Illinois
  • Application: Process chilling
  • System Type: Outdoor parallel system (OPS) configuration
  • Capacity: 150 tons used for process cooling
  • Features: Screw compressors, adiabatic condenser, low-charge plate chiller heat exchanger
  • Energy Savings: VFD compressor control and DC motor condenser control

A large food processing organization globally recognized for their environmental and sustainable processes chose to install a low-charge ammonia (R-717) chiller manufactured by Zero Zone as part of a worldwide R-22 equipment phase-out. The low-charge ammonia chiller was selected to meet health and safety standards for both their employees and the surrounding neighborhood community. The package chiller was customized to provide the same low temperature glycol refrigeration capabilities of chemical refrigerant chillers while exceeding target GWP objectives. John Collins chimed in that choosing ammonia “is a future proof and environmentally friendly solution.”

Making an Educated Decision

There are many practical reasons to still consider HFCs. Traditionally, HFCs are seen as a low cost and familiar option. However, it is sometimes difficult to know where HFCs can be used because high GWP refrigerants are being increasingly regulated by individual states. To get started on understanding HFC restrictions, read our news article and white paper about state refrigerant regulations.

Likewise, there are many practical reasons for using natural refrigerants. CO2 is one of the safest refrigerants to use. Ammonia systems are some of the most efficient and have been used safely in industrial applications for many decades. Both CO2 refrigerant and ammonia refrigerant are readily available. Of course, the biggest benefit to natural refrigerants is that they are environmentally sound and meet global sustainability goals.

So, if either synthetic refrigerants or natural refrigerants can be reasonable choices, how do you know which to pick? A good place to begin is by contacting your local Zero Zone sales representative and starting a conversation. They will help you select the best refrigerant for your needs, whether it is synthetic or natural. Fill out a contact form or give us a call (cases 800-247-4496; systems 800-708-3735). We would love to talk refrigerants with you.