Energy efficiency measures: best practices

Energy efficiency measures: best practices

Stakeholders of the cold chain are currently implementing actions to fight global warming focusing on two main objectives: (i) the reduction of direct releases of fluorocarbons in the atmosphere mainly due to leakages, and (ii) the improvement of energy efficiency to reduce the primary energy use.

Improvements can range from the investment in new and more performant technologies, which have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 15% – 40%, to the implementation of more straightforward and less expensive maintenance and operational practices for the refrigeration system and the overall production process which can frequently reduce energy costs by 15% or more.

Energy efficiency measures (EEMs) have a great potential for introducing noteworthy economic, environmental and social benefits, energy savings as well as a wide range of non-energy benefits, including:

  • Increased profitability mainly due to reduced operating costs (e.g., energy and maintenance costs) and increased productivity. Some measures can also provide improved system reliability and a better match between the refrigeration load and the equipment capacity leading to a more efficient system.
  • The improved working environment in terms of ergonomics and safety, and reduced impact on the external environment thanks to the lower resources’ consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reduced vulnerability to fluctuations of the energy prices, which may be sensitive to numerous external factors, such as significant weather events and changes in national and local regulations.
  • Enhanced public image. Due to the growing concerns of the community over global warming and other environmental issues, players in the cold chain want to demonstrate to customers that they operate in a responsible way aiming at protecting the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices.
  • Increased sales. A more pleasing shopping and working environment and a reduction of the environmental impact of the cold chain can attract and retain more customers, which are more and more environmental-friendly, leading to an increase in sales.
  • Reduced spoilage. Upgrades in the refrigeration and lighting systems and better monitoring and management of the time-temperature relationship allow reducing the spoilage of perishable goods while also saving on energy bills. Waste of products entails the loss of the energy consumed for processing and storing the goods, the production of GHGs, such as methane, during degradation, and the societal impact of wasting resources

The EEMs relevant for the cold chains have been grouped into 10 categories: auxiliary technologies, buildings, employee, energy generation and recovery, industrial symbiosis, maintenance, management, monitoring and control, refrigeration system, and transport.

Each category has a set of factsheets presenting measures from real cases.

Category Type of energy efficiency measure

Auxiliary Technology:


Energy generation/Recovery:




Monitoring and control:

Refrigeration System:


Industrial symbiosis:

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