It’s already one of the coolest new supermarkets in the country – with an in-store barista, pizza oven and wine dispenser – but there’s another part of Fresh Collective Alberton Ave that makes it especially sophisticated: its state of the art refrigeration.

Known as a ‘water loop’ refrigeration system because it uses a closed circuit of water to cool the refrigerant inside the store’s chillers and freezers, its key benefit is a lot less power consumption – typically 20 percent less than standard supermarket fridges.

Commissioned by Foodstuffs North Island specifically for the new Fresh Collective store in Mt Albert, Auckland, it’s the first time such a system has been installed in a New Zealand supermarket.

Foodstuffs North Island’s General Manager of Property Development, Lindsay Rowles, said the move underscores the company’s commitment to making its stores more environmentally sustainable.

“The installation of water loop refrigeration at Fresh Collective Alberton is a continuation of our leadership in sustainable refrigeration,” said Rowles. “In 2006 we put the first glycol-cooled fridge system into a New Zealand supermarket, then the first transcritical carbon dioxide system in 2012.”

“As well as saving on electricity, the new water loop system contains a refrigerant that has less than half the global warming potential of standard synthetic refrigerants."

“The design also means in future we can transition more easily to a natural refrigerant, which is our preferred option long-term. Additionally, it means our chillers and freezers are quieter and can more easily be moved around our stores. You can see why it made commercial sense to move in this direction.”

Fresh Collective Alberton’s water loop system was designed and installed by Auckland company EcoChill, with a specific brief to minimise environmental impact. EcoChill’s Managing Director, Matthew Darby, said it’s the first time his company has put its water loop technology into a retail setting.

“One of the ways this is a big deal is that the total quantity of refrigerant used is around 90% less than a standard system. This is quite an achievement. I'm also proud of the speed at which we got things done at Fresh Collective Alberton – eight weeks from start to finish isn’t long when you’re not only installing new chillers and freezers but also introducing new technology into a retail environment,” said Darby.

“Overall, this has been a fantastic opportunity to continue working with Foodstuffs, delivering yet another refrigeration first in New Zealand and assisting with its sustainability strategy.”

Other technical features include Resource Data Management (RDM) controls which drive the latest in horizontal variable speed scroll compressors, electronic expansion valves, EC fan motors, and speed controlled circulation pumps, which maximise energy use reductions.

The RDM control system is also designed to alert store staff if a chiller or freezer isn’t performing at its optimum.  This ensures any problems are picked up before there is stock damage or other issues.

“Ultimately the new refrigeration system at Fresh Collective Alberton means the store is both properly equipped to specialise in fresh food and in a more environmentally sustainable way,” said Rowles.