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EPA Cracks Down on Greenhouse Gas Refrigerant Emissions

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Federal authorities are taking steps to further curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of powerful greenhouse gases used mainly in refrigeration and air conditioning. The EPA is working with a handful of global industries, educating them on best practices (preventing leakage, for instance) and suggesting alternatives. By reducing leaks, supermarkets nationwide could prevent the emission of 27 million metric tons of climate-changing carbon dioxide per year (equivalent to emissions from the generation of electricity use by 3.7 million homes annually) and save themselves $100 million in the process, the government says.

Moving away from the effective, established HFC systems isn't easy, but the EPA is working with grocery stores and cooling equipment manufacturers to make the switch as smooth and effective as possible. A few big chains are leading the way: Target is testing new greener cooling technology for its stores, and a Whole Foods in Brooklyn has already gone HFC-free. The efforts are part of the EPA's GreenChill program, which has been active since 2007 promoting greener solutions to keeping food and people cool.

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