Cutting-edge CO2 refrigeration systems installed at new UNFI distribution centre

By Pilar Aleu, Jan 13, 2015, 16:30 2 minute reading

In October 2014, United Natural Foods Inc., a leading national distributor of natural and organic foods, specialty foods, and related products in the U.S. and Canada, opened a 500,000 ft2 (46,452m2) distribution centre in Montgomery, New York. Features of this new plant include CO2 refrigeration systems, a robust refrigerated cooler and freezer capacity and increased cold chain integrity.

On 14 October 2014, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) opened its new distribution centre located in Montgomery, New York, which will provide its Metro New York, Long Island and New York customers with its wide range of natural and organic food products. With a size of 500,000 ft2 (46,452 m2), the Montgomery distribution centre has become the second largest UNFI facility built in the East Region.

Designed and constructed using sustainable practices, the plant is expected to achieve LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. Among its environmentally friendly solutions are refrigeration systems employing CO2 refrigerant, robust refrigerated cooler and freezer capacity and increased cold chain integrity. These new improvements will allow UNFI to enhance efficiencies, improve productivity, lower operating costs and minimise its environmental footprint.

Highlights of the sustainable design elements include:

  • Energy use reduction of 26% compared to typical comparable building
  • Water use reduction of 45% compared to typical comparable building
  • 75% of construction waste diverted from landfill
  • Building materials contain 30% recycled content 

UNFI Lancaster facility using ammonia refrigeration system

The use of natural refrigerants at the Montgomery distribution centre is not a singular case for UNFI. Another UNFI facility (590,000 ft2 or 54,813m2) in Lancaster, Texas, equipped with an ammonia refrigerant based system, opened its doors in 2010.

The UNFI Lancaster distribution centre also features several other environmentally friendly solutions, such as:
  • Energy reduction and lighting power reduction of 30% and 18%, respectively
  • Usage of motion-activated sensors, flow controls and rainwater recovery cisterns that allow water use reduction of over 35%
  • Over 97% of all office equipment and appliances in building are Energy Star rated
  • 20% of all building materials made with recycled content
  • 75% of all construction waste materials were properly recycled and/or reused

In addition, UNFI recently announced the activation of a 655 kW rooftop solar array at the Lancaster plant, which will generate more than 1 million kWh of clean energy annually, bringing UNFI’s total production to over 5 million kWh per year.

The facility has been recognised by the U.S. Green Building Council, which granted UNFI with a LEED® Gold certification. “Lancaster demonstrates UNFI’s collective approach to environmental responsibility in many ways, including our commitment to expand both our successful solar and LEED® certification programs,” said Tom Dziki, Chief Human Resources and Sustainability Officer.

About United Natural Foods

Founded in 1996 by the merger of two regional distributors, Mountain People's Warehouse and Cornucopia Natural Foods, United Natural Foods, Inc. has become a leading distributor of natural products for the retail industry including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the food service channel in the U.S and Canada. Winner of the Supermarket News 2008 Sustainability Excellence Award, the company was also ranked by Fortune in 2012 as one of its "Most Admired American Companies" and was chosen by Food Logistics Magazine as one of its 2012 Top 20 Green Providers.


By Pilar Aleu

Jan 13, 2015, 16:30

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