The climate change conversation tends to focus on carbon emissions, reductions, and removals. So, it’s easy to forget that other greenhouse gases (GHGs) have a much larger warming potential than carbon dioxide. As an example, the GHG Protocol notes that the most common hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) used in refrigeration can warm the atmosphere up to 4,800 times more than carbon dioxide (CO2). HFCs are the main compounds used in modern refrigeration to absorb and release heat, leaking from those systems at an average rate of 25% annually. That’s why transitioning large, commercial refrigeration systems to more climate-friendly solutions can significantly reduce environmental impact. Our partner, Therm, is at the forefront of this important effort with their Refrigerant Carbon CreditsTM (RCCTMs)i initiative. Therm’s program incentivizes organizations to reduce their GHG emissions by shifting away from a traditional HFC refrigerant system. Companies that participate in the program can earn RCCs to help finance the upgrade to their refrigeration systems. Therm recently won a Corporate Excellence Award from the American Carbon Registry (ACR) for this innovative program.
Request a demo of the Cloverly carbon credit supplier platform to see how you can easily manage your inventory, pricing, listing, distribution, and more from one place.
Who is Therm?
Founded in 2021, Therm is a leading developer of carbon credits to help the grocery industry adopt climate-friendly refrigerant systems at a lower capital cost. The Therm team has a deep background in energy efficiency services for grocery retail and distribution, facilities management, and cooling technology. In just over a year, Therm’s RCC projects have avoided over 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
What are HFCs? Why are HFC refrigerant emissions a concern?
Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) is a synthetic chemical made of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon that’s primarily used as a refrigerant in modern systems. HFCs came into wide use in the late 1980s after the Montreal Protocol aimed to eliminate chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)-based refrigerants which were harming the ozone layer. Unfortunately, despite having a minimal impact on the ozone layer, HFC refrigerant emissions have a much higher global warming potential (GWP) than carbon dioxide. According to the GHG Protocol (based on the IPCC 5th Assessment Report), the GWP for HFCs over 100 years is 4 to 12,400. This means that emissions of one million metric tons of HFCs are equivalent to emissions of 4 to 12,400 million metric tons (mt) of carbon dioxide (or 4 to 12,400 CO2e). The most common HFCs used in refrigeration have a GWP of up to 4,800 CO2e. The main sources of refrigerant GHG emissions are leaks from refrigeration systems and improper disposal of refrigerants at end of life. Project Drawdown, a nonprofit focused on science-based climate solutions, identified refrigerant solutions as one of the top strategies for climate mitigation. In its analysis of two scenarios (2˚C and 1.5˚C temperature rise by 2100 respectively), both refrigerant management and alternative refrigerants rank in the top ten most efficient solutions.
Why focus on the grocery store industry?
Therm estimates that a single supermarket emits 875 pounds of HFCs each year, or 1,500 mtCO2e, which is equivalent to the CO2 emitted by 300 cars in the same time period. If just one grocery store switched to a more climate-friendly refrigeration system, it would avoid system lifetime emissions equal to the CO2 emitted by 41,400 flights from LA to NYC. With 42,000 grocery stores in the US alone, this would have a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. If all of these stores converted to a climate-friendly system such as transcritical CO2, it would have the same impact as 79.4 million people living a net-zero lifestyle. This is synonymous to wiping out the entire carbon footprint of a population 9.5 times the size of New York City.
“As we started to research climate reduction solutions in our area of expertise, we saw a clear opportunity in refrigerants. Because refrigerants account for up to 65% of the Scope 1 emissions for supermarkets, they are a great way to create large-scale emissions reductions.”
John Tinsley, Vice President and Co-Founder at Therm
How does the Refrigerant Carbon Credits (RCCs) program work?
When a store transitions to a more climate-friendly refrigeration system, it is eligible to claim RCCs. One RCC is issued for each avoided metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Therm helps stores register their projects with leading carbon regulatory bodies and marketplaces such as Cloverly to capture the highest value for their RCCs. These RCCs can then be sold to companies to help them achieve their sustainability targets. The revenue from the RCCs helps stores to offset the cost of upgrading their refrigeration systems.
Here’s how it works:
- A store switches from a climate-damaging refrigeration system to a solution with a lower climate impact.
- RCCs are issued for the difference in total emissions generated before and after the project was implemented.
- Therm sells the RCCs to government-regulated entities and to companies with sustainability targets through carbon marketplaces such as Cloverly.
Looking ahead, Therm plans to expand their project options to provide more opportunities for stores to join in climate action, including HVAC and leak suppression.
What does the American Carbon Registry award recognize Therm for?
Therm won the ACR Corporate Excellence Award for helping the grocery industry switch to climate-friendly refrigerants using finance from carbon markets. The award specifically lauds Therm’s innovative processes and robust engineering for verified, permanent, and immediate emission reductions. Replacing a refrigeration system in a store can be expensive and can cost over a million dollars per store. Therm’s RCC program is paving the way for grocery stores and distributors to obtain the critical financing they need to speed up the shift to low-GWP refrigeration systems. The award also notes that these projects are based on ACR’s Advanced Refrigeration Systems (ARS) methodology.
How can Cloverly help carbon credit suppliers like Therm?
Cloverly’s marketplace of high-quality carbon credits makes it easy for businesses to act on and invest in climate action. For example, Therm has three high-quality US-based projects listed in our marketplace as follows. All three projects are based on the ACR ARS methodology and reduce emissions by nearly 99% with no risk of reversal:
- North Carolina: A large food distributor replaced their legacy climate-damaging cooling system with a natural refrigerant system that has zero refrigerant emissions.
- Washington: An independent grocer built natural refrigerant cooling systems in place of climate-damaging refrigeration. The CO2 refrigerant rack systems installed are near-zero emission systems.
- New Jersey: A rural, family-run grocer built a near-zero emission natural refrigerant cooling system in place of climate-damaging refrigeration.
Additionally, our software for carbon credit suppliers provides project developers with instant access to buyer networks and capital, as well as tools to improve operational efficiencies.
Request a demo of our supplier software today to see how easy it is to manage your inventory, pricing, content, distribution, and more from one place.
You can also contact us to offer your credits for sale on the Cloverly Marketplace.
i Refrigerant Carbon Credits™ and Refrigeration Carbon Credits™ are trademarks of Therm Solutions, Inc., all rights reserved.