Energy Manager

Clean up in the Freezer Aisle

Promoting energy efficiency, preventative maintenance and securing the lifespan of retail grocery refrigeration equipment through improved cleaning practices.

April 16, 2020  By Darren A. Cooper


Commercial buildings offer many opportunities for companies to reduce energy usage that can save them money while also decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) and other polluting emissions. Grocery retail refrigeration is one sector with various energy-efficiency and emission-reducing investment options.

Grocery refrigeration and freezer units are the heart of every grocery retail business. The total climate impact of grocery refrigeration is even greater when refrigerant gases are considered.

Current refrigeration equipment relies on high global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as coolants. Keeping these units cleaned on a regular basis and in proper working order is imperative to ensuring operating efficiencies, protecting them from equipment failure and ensuring the safety, quality and well-being of the food and the store itself.

A healthy unit

Regularly scheduled maintenance is the first step in maintaining a healthy refrigeration unit. While keeping the outside surfaces and appearance sparkling clean for customers is critical, cleaning the inner workings of the refrigeration unit is even more important. If proper sanitation and temperature of the equipment are not regulated and maintained microorganisms can grow, affecting the safety and quality of the food products in the cases. Establishing an effective refrigeration case sanitation program is imperative in mitigating these types of risk factors.

There are some sensitive areas of the cases that can potentially be damaged during cleaning if certain precautions are not taken. These include electrical components, such as fans, lighting and the interior evaporator coils. The electrical components are generally not designed to be flooded with extreme amounts of water and other harsh cleaning solutions. The evaporator coils are typically made of copper or aluminum, and these soft metals are susceptible to corrosion if acidic and alkaline cleaners are applied to the units.


New approach

New refrigeration technologies and approaches are slowly being integrated into the grocery sector, especially those linked to higher savings and shorter simple payback. Some of the most popular approaches today include implementation of high efficiency fan motors, recommissioning, cleaning, adjusting store temperature control and focused maintenance and repair.

With the increase in eco-responsibility and energy efficiency within the grocery industry, companies like Bioteknik Environmental in Burlington, Ont. are emerging as an environmentally safe, non-corrosive and energy saving alternative to traditional cleaning offerings.

The company’s solution and service, trademarked BioScrub, involves a high pressure supersaturated steam technology and chemical-free and organically-derived application which penetrates hard to reach spaces to provide a deep clean and restore equipment to optimal appearance and performance.

Not only can this approach restore and clean refrigeration cases, it can also extend to other areas of the store, such as the rooftop condensers, walk in freezers and more.

Establishing a preventive maintenance program is paramount. Routine inspection and maintenance of each refrigeration unit and equipment can prevent paying much more to fix the damage that may be caused further down the road. A safe and thorough cleaning of units will not only restore system performance and improve operational and energy efficiency, it will also increase the longevity of the equipment and ultimately ensure product quality inside the units. Having a sustainable business solution will ensure customer satisfaction and provide a solution for everyone.


Darren A. Cooper, P.Eng, LEED AP, CBCP, is president Renteknik Group Inc., a team of professionals with engineering, project management, supply chain, financial and business expertise with a goal of guiding and educating commercial, industrial, municipal, institutional and multi-residential clients on how to maximize operational efficiency, reduce energy consumption, achieve energy savings and improve productivity.

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