SuperSmart: results achieved and plans for the future

The SuperSmart project, which ran for three years and ends today, sought to demonstrate the environmental benefits of implementing efficient heating and cooling solutions, as well as the economic benefits of reducing energy use in supermarkets across Europe.

The February publication of a technical report outlining criteria for the EU Ecolabel for food retail stores will be last of a series of public reports to be published under the project. The eco-label recognises supermarkets’ sustainability credentials.

The SuperSmart project held training courses and events all over Europe, creating an expertise hub to facilitate wider market uptake of energy-efficient supermarkets by awareness-raising, knowledge transfer and the preparation of an EU Ecolabel for sustainable food retail stores.

The project consortium included nine partners from eight different European countries, coordinated by Ingrid Claussen from Norway-based research institute SINTEF.

To remove market barriers to energy-efficient technology solutions for heating and cooling supermarkets, SINTEF was tasked with preparing reports and training materials to raise awareness among the relevant stakeholders. Six reports (in English and Spanish) on how to build, refurbish, and manage an eco-friendly supermarket were made publicly available through the project website, and around 40 training events were carried out across Europe, reaching more than 400 people.  

In addition to the physical training events, seven interactive workshops were held at the most important conferences and trade fairs in the field (e.g. Chillventa, ATMOsphere, and Gustav Lorentzen conference). Spanish partner CIRCE prepared a Spanish-language interactive online training platform. Hanne Kauko (SINTEF) argued: “SuperSmart has given me a chance to learn more about supermarket stakeholders – from food retailers to service engineers and system manufacturers – and to understand their point of view better. This is very valuable for us researchers, who tend to live in a somewhat unrealistic world, far from the everyday problems of the industry.”

At the same time, Umweltbundesamt (UBA), Germany’s main environmental protection agency, coordinated efforts to create an EU Ecolabel for food retail stores. Based on the premise that such a label can encourage supermarket stakeholders to implement environmentally friendly and eco-efficient technologies and thus reduce the environmental impact of food retail stores, robust criteria were identified by means of market and technical analysis, including lifecycle assessment studies. These were then presented and discussed with supermarket stakeholders via dedicated workshops and surveys. The final version of the technical report for the development of the EU Ecolabel criteria for food retail stores will be published on the project website in February 2019. Kerstin Martens (UBA) commented: “It was a major challenge and also a great experience to develop the criteria for the Ecolabel with our highly motivated and competent SuperSmart experts. There are so many opportunities for improvements that have such a big impact.”

shecco was responsible for the project’s dissemination and communication activities, with the purpose of building a bridge between the project results and the public in the HVAC&R and food retail sectors. Regular communication campaigns were conducted. By the project’s end, over 300 media mentions were reported and almost 30 dedicated e-newsletters campaigns sent out. The project was also presented at some 70 events all around the world. Dario Belluomini (shecco) said: “Collaborating with top researchers and experts from all over Europe was a great opportunity to learn more about the latest technology trends in commercial refrigeration, for which natural refrigerants play a key role: it is now clear that CO2 as a refrigerant is widely accepted and has a high rate of adoption, even in warm climates.”

Project partners will now continue to raise awareness about the environmental impact of refrigeration. “If more people understood the role of refrigerants in global warming, the change towards more efficient refrigeration systems using natural refrigerants would accelerate,” commented Nicolas Fidorra from the Germany-based Technical University of Braunschweig. “However, not only is awareness amongst people working in the supermarket sector relevant, but also among customers. The Ecolabel can help make customers aware of environmentally friendly stores and consequently support the uptake of these technologies,” he continued. In this regard, UBA is investigating the possibility of further research on the EU Ecolabel, establishing a dedicated product group under the guidance of the European Commission and the EU Ecolabelling Board.

The SuperSmart project started in February 2016 and was funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme (Grant Agreement N. 696076). The consortium was composed of the following partners: SINTEF (Norway), UBA (Germany), shecco (Belgium), CIRCE (Spain), KTH (Sweden), International Institute of Refrigeration (France), ITC-CNR (Italy), Technical University Braunschweig (Germany), and Energija (Macedonia).