Cold Chain Innovation Hub Research: Part 3

The following report — “Evaluating the Philippines’ Food Cold Chain, Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact” — is based on desk-based research conducted by the Cold Chain Innovation Hub for the “Global Partnership for Improving the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines” project.

The report has been divided into three parts and reproduced below.

Measuring Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

The following are different energy efficiency and environmental impact monitoring and analysis methodologies sourced from research papers and case studies considered to be best practice globally.

The facilities to be analyzed are as follows:

  • Packhouse (TBC)
  • Transport refrigeration unit (TBC)
  • Cold storage warehouse
  • Supermarket
  • Convenience store (TBC)
  • Restaurant (TBC)
  • The cold chain as a whole (TBC)

Cold Storage Warehouses

Several studies have shown that within cold storage facilities, typically 60–70% of the electrical energy may be used for refrigeration.

In the United States, one study conducted by an energy efficiency organization in 2016 found typical energy use for cold storage facilities to be broken down as in the chart on the right.

Cold storage facilities can generally be categorized into three main categories:

Chilled-1°C to -10°C
FrozenBelow -18°C
Mixed useThose with both chilled and frozen rooms operating from a common refrigeration system.

The cold storage industry can be extremely diverse consisting of facilities of 10–20 m3 up to large warehouses of hundreds of thousands of cubic meters.

Source: J.A. Evans, et al., Specific energy consumption values for various refrigerated food cold stores, Energy Buildings (2013)

Specific Energy Consumption

Specific Energy Consumption (commonly referred to as SEC) is currently the most widely used metric in the cold storage industry to benchmark and compare the energy performance of a given cold storage facility relative to other cold storage facilities in the industry.

It is defined as the amount of total electricity consumed (kWh) per cubic meter of facility size (m3) per year (or per annum commonly notated as “a”).

SEC = kWh/m3/a

SEC best practice

In a study conducted by Andy Pearson of UK-based Star Refrigeration, presented at The 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration in August of 2019, a best practice curve for modern cold storage facilities based on the SEC metric was proposed.

Source: Andy Pearson, 2019, “Energy Performance of Industrial Cold Storage Facilities”, The 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The curve is based on actual electrical usage for 21 cold storage sites in the UK where all were “managed under a common maintenance regime with a strong focus on energy performance and continuous improvement.”

For reference, the following SEC figures can be obtained from this standard.

Best practice SEC figures for typical cold storage facilities
50,000 m316 kWh/m3/year
500,000 m3< 5kWh/m3/year

SEC limitations

While SEC is widely considered to be the best baseline metric to use to compare the energy efficiency of cold storage facilities currently, there are a number of significant factors that are not taken into account.

  • Building utilization
  • Weather
  • Building fabric condition
  • Building and process management
  • Refrigeration plant condition
  • Other compensating factors

In addition, alternative methods of measuring not only the energy efficiency of a facility, but the efficiency of the facility as a whole are also available. These methods are all based on the general principle of efficiency being equal to benefit being divided by cost. Some of these include:

General facility usage: Operating output divided by required input

Equipment specific: Cooling capacity divided by electrical input

Building as a whole: Product throughput divided by cost of operation

SEC significant past studies

Current best practice is built upon significant studies employing the SEC metric conducted over the past twenty five years. The following is a list of these studies in chronological order.

Original publishing dateName of studyRegion focusNotes
1994ETSU, 1994. Energy Consumption Guide 37: Cold Storage Sector. Energy Efficiency Office, Department of the Environment, Harwell, United KingdomUK
1995Bosma, J. 1995. Inventory study of the energy conservation potential in cold storage installations in the Netherlands. Proc. 19th International Congress of Refrigeration, The Hague vol II, IIF/IIRNetherlands
2002Duiven, J. E and Binard, P. 2002. Refrigerated storage: new developments. IIR Bulletin – 2002-2.EU
2013Evans, J.A. Huet, J-M. Reinholdt, L. Fikiin, K. Zilio, C. Houska, M. Landfeld, A. Bond, C. Scheurs, M. and van Sambeeck, T.W.M., 2013. Cold Store Energy Performance, Proceedings of the 2nd IIR Conference on the Cold Chain and Sustainability, Paris, IIF/IIREUAlso known as the ICE-E study. This study was extended and updated by Evans et al in 2015, with 44% more data. See below.
2015Evans, J.A. Foster, A. Huet, J-M. Reinholdt, L. Fikiin, K. Zilio, C. Houska, M. Landfeld, A. Bond, C. Scheurs, M. and van Sambeeck, T.W.M., 2015. Specific Energy Consumption Values for Various Refrigerated Food Cold Stores, Proceedings of the 24th IIR Congress, Yokohama, IIF/IIREU

Example SEC Case Study: Comparing energy efficiency of a plant retrofit in Australia

In a technical paper from Australia-based industrial refrigeration system installer Scantec Refrigeration Technologies, the energy efficiency of two different refrigeration systems, retrofitted at a single cold storage facility in Mackay, North Queensland, Australia were analyzed using the SEC method.

Source: Stefan S. Jensen, Scantec Refrigeration Technologies, 2019, “Real energy efficiency of DX NH3 versus HFC”, The 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The original system as an HFC-based refrigeration system which was decommissioned in 2015. The owners of the facility discussed replacing the old HFC-based system with a “new, more energy efficient central refrigeration system”, the paper states. The installation of the new system was completed in August 2018.

Old System

The refrigerant used in the low temperature segment was R404A. The refrigerant used in the medium temperature segment was unknown but believed to be R22.

New System

The new system was a direct expansion (DX) ammonia (NH3) based system. There was a low NH3 inventory in the refrigeration plant. It included a dry expansion refrigerant feed for the low temperature freezer evaporators and a propylene glycol loop for the medium temperature services.

Energy data collection limitations

Certain limitations in the collection of energy data were noted in the paper. Energy consumption records for the old HFC system were provided by the energy retailer, Ergon Energy. The energy consumption records for that plant included auxiliary consumers such as general light and power, office air conditioning and forklift charging.

For the NH3 system, the energy consumption was recorded via the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. It therefore represented the energy consumption of the refrigeration plant only.


The following SECs were calculated for the two systems.

Date CoveredSECEnergy Consumption
HFC SystemDecember 2009 to January 2015206 kWh/m3/year2,020 kWh/day
DX NH3 SystemOctober 2018 to January 201988 kWh/m3/year1,260 kWh/day

Therefore, there was a recorded SEC reduction of around 57% by replacing the industry standard HFC based systems with a central, low charge NH3 plant in this study. A number of other factors were considered in the study such as the economics of the system’s cost to the end user, as well as considerations for ambient temperatures, building fabric, subfloor heating, etc.

For the full case study, refer to “Real energy efficiency of DX NH3 versus HFC”, presented by Stefan S. Jensen of Scantec Refrigeration Technologies at the 25th IIR International Congress of Refrigeration, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in August of 2019.


The term “supermarkets” is often used as a generic term referring to the category of commercial retail businesses where food is the majority of the product mix.

These stores are generally accepted to fall into four major categories characterized mainly by the size of the sales area in square meters (m2).

Hypermarkets5,000 m2 to over 10,000 m2
Superstores1,400 m2 to 5,000 m2
Supermarkets (mid-range stores)280 m2 to 1,400 m2
Convenience storesless than 280 m2
Source: S.A. Tassou, Y. Ge, A. Hadawey, D. Marriott. Energy Consumption And Conservation In Food Retailing. Applied Thermal Engineering, Elsevier, 2010, 31 (2-3), pp.147. 10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2010.08.023. hal-00692330

It is generally acknowledged that refrigeration accounts for 30-60% of a supermarket’s energy bill, resulting in the highest energy consumption related to other systems.

Source: Minetto S., Marinetti S., Saglia P., Masson N., Rossetti A., 2017. Non-technological barriers to the diffusion of energy-efficient HVAC&R solutions in the food retail sector. International Journal of Refrigeration 86 (2018) 422-434

Several industry studies and surveys from Europe and the United States generally correspond to the following typical breakdown of energy use of a supermarket shown below.


Electrical Energy Intensity

As expected, energy consumption of supermarkets can very widely depending on a number of factors including business practices, store format, product mix, shopping activity, ambient temperatures, indoor temperatures and humidity conditions, the equipment used for in-store food preparation, preservation and display, etc.

Studies have also shown that a large amount of variability exists in the energy use of these stores even within the same store category and the same retail food chain.

The most widely used performance indicator for energy use in the supermarket sector is “electrical energy intensity”. This metric is defined as the amount of electrical energy consumed per year per square meter of sales area (kWh/m2/year).

A number of studies have been conducted in Europe and the US benchmarking energy use for various supermarkets in the regions. One study conducted in the UK in 2011 concluded: “The electrical energy consumption can vary widely from around 700 kWh/m2 sales area per year in hypermarkets to over 2000 kWh/m2 sales area per year in convenience stores.”

The following is a summary of key energy use benchmarks found from that study (energy consumption data sourced from a sample of 2,570 retail food stores from a number of major retail food chains in the UK in 2010):

Store typeSample sizeSales area (m2)Average electrical energy intensity
Convenience stores64080-280 m21,480 kWh/m2/year
Medium sized stores1,360280-1,400 m21,500-850 kWh/m2/year
Large sized stores1505,000-10,000 m2600-220 kWh/m2/year
Source: S.A. Tassou, Y. Ge, A. Hadawey, D. Marriott. Energy Consumption And Conservation In Food Retailing. Applied Thermal Engineering, Elsevier, 2010, 31 (2-3), pp.147. 10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2010.08.023. hal-00692330

In another study conducted in 2013 on yearly energy consumption collected from 150 supermarkets in the Netherlands (all from the same supermarket chain), the resulting regression coefficient of yearly electrical energy consumption on sales area was 407.45 kWh/m2/year.

Source: Sietze M. van der Sluisa, Ulla lindbergb, Anna-Lena Laaneb, Jaime Ariasc, “Performance indicators for energy efficient supermarket buildings”, 2017, 12th IEA Heat Pump Conference 2017, Rotterdam, Netherlands

In another report conducted by the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme (K-CEP) in 2018, assembled by shecco, analyzing energy efficiency guidelines for HFC-free commercial refrigeration, the following average annual electrical energy intensity figures for supermarkets were observed.

Average electrical energy intensity for supermarkets in different regions

CountryAverage supermarket electrical energy intensitySource
Sweden400 kWh/m2/yearEnergimydegheten, 2010
Norway460 kWh/m2/yearNVE, 2014
USA600 kWh/m2/yearEnergy Star, 2014
UK1,000 kWh/m2/yearTassou et al., 2011
Spain327 kWh/m2/yearCIRCE, 2015
Source: “Technical report on energy efficiency in HFC-free supermarket refrigeration”, February 2018, Klára Skačanová, Anti Gkizelis, shecco, Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme (K-CEP)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In 1998, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol initiative resulting in what is now internationally recognized as one of the main standards for corporate carbon reporting.

To date, a number of the world’s largest companies in the food retail sector have adopted this protocol as a standard for calculating and reporting their yearly carbon footprints.

Broadly, under the protocol, emissions fall into one of three categories or “scopes”.

Scope 1Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources
Scope 2Indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy
Scope 3All indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions.
Source: “The Greenhouse Gas Protocol”, A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, World Resources Institute, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Revised Edition March 2004

Philippine GHG Inventory and Reporting Protocol

The Philippines Climate Change Commission, which reports to the Office of the President, published its “Philippine GHG Inventory and Reporting Protocol: Manual for Business” in 2017.

Source: Philippine GHG Inventory and Reporting Protocol: Manual for Business, November 2017, Climate Change Commission, Office of the President, Philippine Government

The report states that in order “to prevent the double counting of emissions and compliance with international standards, this reporting protocol harmonizes the best features of available standards worldwide.”

It is largely based on “The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard” document referenced above. As an example, several of the Philippines largest conglomerates have adopted the reporting protocol into their sustainability reports. Two examples are listed below.

Ayala Corporation

Ayala Corporation is the oldest and one of the largest conglomerates in the Philippines with core interests in real estate, banking, telecommunications, and power.

Ayala Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2018

Scope 1 Direct Energy Emissions-Thermal Power Generation
-Generation Set
-Company-owned Vehicles
1.6 million t-CO2e
Scope 2 Indirect Energy Emissions-Electricity Function of Facilities0.43 million t-CO2e
Scope 3 Other Indirect Emissions-Outsourced Vehicles
-Electricity Consumption of Tenants
-Desludging of Septic Tanks
-Armored Cars
2.6 million t-CO2e
Source: Ayala Corporation website

SM Investments Corporation

SM Investments Corporation (SMIC) is a Philippine conglomerate with interests in shopping mall development and management, retail, real estate development, banking, and tourism. SM Markets, a chain of food retail stores consisting of SM Supermarket, SM Hypermarket and Savemore are a subsidiary under SMIC.

In SM Investments Corporation’s 2017 Sustainability Report, the company indicates that it calculates its GHG emissions “using the equity share approach according to The Greenhouse Gas Protocol”. An excerpt of figures provided is shown below:

SM Investments Corporation 2017 GHG Emissions Summary

Scope 1 Direct GHG Emissions6,922 t-CO2e
Scope 2 Indirect GHG Emissions481,081 t-CO2e
Scope 3 Other Indirect GHG Emissions3.1 million t-CO2e
Source: SM Investments Corporation website

International GHG Emissions Benchmarks

Several examples of leading multinational food retailers which have adopted the Greenhouse Gas Protocol are listed below:

Metro AG

Metro AG is a large German Multinational Food Retailer. It uses the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to measure key performance indicators for its facilities in terms of energy use and carbon emissions. Below is an excerpt from its 2017/18 Corporate Responsibility Report.

in t CO2 (CO2 equivalents)Reference year 20112015/162016/172017/18
Scope 1 – direct greenhouse gas emissions836,828712,692705,377621,139
Scope 2 – indirect greenhouse gas emissions1,487,4201,145,9531,108,9501,106,026
Scope 3 – other indirect greenhouse gas emissions4,234,5123,294,7003,157,2233,614,024
Total greenhouse gas emissions6,558,7605,153,3454,971,5515,341,189

Definitions: Level of all main emissions by Scope in line with the methodology of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

The following sources of emissions are included:

  • Scope 1 = fuel oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), refrigerant losses from commercial cooling, refrigerant losses from air-conditioning, fuel consumption of company cars and the group’s own logistics fleet, emergency power generators
  • Scope 2 = electricity consumption, district heating and cooling
  • Scope 3 = external logistics for the transport of goods to our stores and warehouses, in-house paper consumption for advertising and office purposes, business trips, goods and services purchased for own use, capital assets, upstream chain emissions and grid losses for all direct and indirect energy sources, waste, employee commutes, leased assets


US-based wholesaler Costco tracks its carbon emissions according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Reporting Standard.

The company’s goal is to “to work toward maintaining our carbon footprint growth to less than our company sales growth.” This goal was achieved in its 2018 reporting period as summarized by the company below:

Costco’s Carbon Footprint Summary (2016-2018)

Sales (in thousands)tCO2e (tons of carbon dioxide emitted)tCO2e % Increase (over prior year)Sales % Increase (over prior year)
Total in Covered Regions in 2016$109,207,1042,250,90613.4%2.1%
Total in Covered Regions in 2017$131,652,6512,358,6294.5%12.31%
Total in Covered Regions in 2018$145,885,3152,508,4196.5%10.8%
Source: Costco website

This includes Scope 1 and Scope 2 as defined by the company below:


  • Scope 1: Direct Emissions include all natural gas and propane provided to owned or controlled facilities used for heating or food processing and manufacturing. Included in direct emissions are diesel used by Costco’s truck fleets, refrigerated trailers and yard haulers; propane to power mobile floor scrubbers; jet fuel for corporate jets and fugitive emissions from leakage of HFC refrigerants from refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.
  • Scope 2: Indirect Emissions are for purchased electricity and are the largest component of GHG emissions.

Family Mart

Japanese convenience store operator Family Mart measures its carbon emissions according to Japan’s Ministry of Environment guidelines, which are also based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Source: “Basic Guidelines on Accounting for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Throughout the Supply Chain Ver. 1.0”, March 2012, Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Government of Japan

The following is a summary of the company’s 2017 emissions according to its website.


  • Scope 1: Direct emissions of greenhouse gases, such as through the use of fuel in the business’ own operations (e.g.: gasoline used by company-owned vehicles)
  • Scope 2: Indirect emissions of greenhouse gases, such as through the use of electricity provided by other companies (e.g.: electricity used at the head office, offices, and stores)
  • Scope 3: Indirect emissions of greenhouse gases as a result of business activities that do not fall under Scopes 1 or 2
ScopeCategoryCO2 Emissions Quantity (t-CO2)Percent
Scope 148,6850.65%
Scope 21,398,60418.63%
Scope 36,055,75780.72%
Category 1 Procured products and services5,483,494
Category 2 Capital goods250,511
Category 3 Fuel and energy related activities not included in Scopes 1 and 297,793
Category 4 Shipping and delivery (upstream)118,720
Category 5 Waste from operations60,899
Category 6 Business trips2,090
Category 7 Employee commutes784
Category 11 Use of sold products330
Category 12 Disposal of sold products41,136

In addition, Family Mart also employs third party verification of its results. Verification is conducted by the Japan Audit and Certification Organization for Environment and Quality (JACO). Below are screenshot examples of its independent verification reports for its 2017 emissions.

Return to Part 1: Evaluating the Food Cold Chain in the Philippines or download the full report PDF here.