Sustainability Report

This article was originally published in November 2020

Have you ever noticed how warm electronic devices get when they’re turned on? That warmth you feel is electrical energy being released as excess heat. Now, imagine if you could capture that heat and put it to use rather than wasting it.

PCC is doing just that with our refrigeration systems by using “heat reclaim,” a simple, yet effective, energy-saving technology.

Just like an electronic device, our refrigeration systems generate a lot of residual heat as a result of keeping our stores comfortable and our products fresh. While traditional refrigeration systems typically expel this heat into the atmosphere as exhaust, using even more energy, it’s a valuable resource that can be put to good use. Our heat reclaim systems capture this heat and use it to warm the air and water in our stores so that other systems, like hot water heaters, don’t have to work so hard. We utilize our electricity as sparingly and efficiently as possible with this system, while also reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources, like natural gas. In fact, heat reclaim can save us up to 15% in electrical energy use and more than 90% in space heating natural gas use.

This technology is also used in vehicles on today’s roads—excess heat generated by a combustion engine is captured and used to heat the passenger compartment during those cold Seattle winter months.

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) can comprise up to 50% of a grocery store’s energy demand. As we pursue our goal of 10% energy use reduction by 2022, we’re designing our HVAC&R systems to be as energy efficient as possible. Sometimes, that simply means using a free resource that would otherwise go to waste.

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