In & Around Food World

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A leader in spices, Maryland based McCormick & Company, recently cut its energy bill to zero at its 369,000 square foot warehouse in Belcamp, MD. The warehouse had an “eye-popping” power bill because of 3,300 light fixtures and a refrigerated storage area big enough to drive forklifts in and out. But last year, the 8 1/3-acre Harford County warehouse has generated more power than it has consumed, making it the first “net-zero-energy” building in Maryland and one of a small but growing number nationwide.

McCormick first overhauled the building’s lighting and air-handling systems, then installed 7,500 solar panels on the vast rooftop, which generate enough power to offset the electricity the warehouse uses at night and on cloudy days.

“On bright sunny days, our meter’s spinning backward,” said Jeff Blankman, McCormick’s sustainable manufacturing manager. “and at night, we’re buying power from the grid.”

Net-zero buildings like McCormick’s warehouse are part of a broader movement to get homeowners and owners of commercial structures to squeeze the waste out of their energy consumption for economic and environmental reasons.

Two Weis Markets recently received a “silver” certificate form the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership for meeting tough benchmarks on cutting refrigerant emissions that harm the Earth’s protective ozone layer and contribute to global warming.

The 62,000-square-foot stores, located in Forks Township, near Easton, PA., and in Bellefonte, near State College, contain a new, environmentally efficient design, reducing their refrigerant charges by more than 50 percent.

“We achieved these results by installing more efficient refrigeration systems and cases throughout these stores and then carefully monitoring them,” said Kevin Small, Weis Markets vice president, store construction and development. “We are grateful to be recognized as an EPA partner. We will continue to invest in programs and systems that help us reduce our overall environmental impact throughout our store base.”

To achieve silver certification, a store must reduce the size of its refrigerant charge by as least 50 percent from the industry average; reduce annual refrigerant emissions to 15 percent or less of total store capacity; test refrigeration systems for adherence to GreenChill’s leak tightness and guidelines; and use refrigerants that do not damage the Earth’s protective ozone layer.