Grocery Outlet

At a Glance


Retail and Apparel

Project Type




Emeryville, CA


Selena Wang-Thomas helped Grocery Outlet implement predictive management for refrigeration systems and transition to natural refrigerant systems.


Grocery Outlet, the nation’s fast-growing value grocery retailer based on the West Coast, enlisted EDF Climate Corps fellow Selena Wang-Thomas to research opportunities for predictive management of refrigeration systems and transition to natural refrigerant systems. The transition to natural refrigerant systems will be required under the California Cooling Act, and similar regulation is expected to roll out across additional states where Grocery Outlet has a presence.


Wang-Thomas began by researching multiple predictive analytics platforms and analyzing the existing energy management system (EMS), Selena and the refrigeration team selected two platforms to pilot a reprogramming and upgrade of the current EMS. She developed a pilot and KPIs to track savings from improved performance, improved equipment lifetime, reduced maintenance and energy savings.

Turning her attention to the natural refrigerant transition, Selena worked with vendors, design engineers, and the store development team on two pilot projects. She conducted a cost analysis resulting in a 6-10% increase in price for natural refrigerant systems and planned a competitive bid for a wider set of pilot stores to reduce costs and track performance across various climates. Wang-Thomas identified existing stores that will need to be retrofitted to lower-Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants.

Potential Impact

Based on Selena’s recommendations, updating EMS systems across all Grocery Outlet stores could save an estimated $3 million in operating costs. Each store using natural refrigerants instead of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) saves roughly 100 tons of CO2e annually. The 10 pilot stores utilizing natural refrigerants will avoid 1,000 tons of CO2e above regulation. Meeting the regulation will avoid over 2,000 tons of annual CO2e each year from new stores, and almost 20,000 tons of CO2e from HFC gas retrofits.

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