Warehouse CO²

Insulated freezer panels at a Zone Mechanical warehouse

A wall of insulated freezer panels newly installed at a Zone Mechanical CO2-cooled warehouse.


A New York-based international distributor of ethnic foods and flavors / Elk Grove Village, Illinois


To convert a newly purchased dry storage warehouse into a strategic warehouse facility using CO2 as the refrigerant.


With only a small hub facility in suburban Chicago, this fast-growing distributor of ethnic foods and flavors needed to move into a much larger refrigerated warehouse. Not only that, they wanted to increase the amount of available freezer space and leave room for even further expansion.

Hillphoenix, the refrigeration equipment provider and a key Zone Mechanical partner, recommended CO2 as the coolant, as it is more energy efficient and ultimately less expensive to operate. The CO2 would replace Freon®, a hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), or other class of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) that generally are being regulated or taxed out of existance because of their impact on the ozone and contribution to global warming.

The customer, who had little if any experience with CO2, was unsure, and looked to the professionals at Zone Mechanical for advice. The answer was clear. Yes, the initial investment in equipment is greater for a CO2-based system. However, the longterm benefits far outweigh these upfront costs.

Zone Mechanical had used CO2 before, and had found that CO2 installations run cleaner, last longer and recover more quickly than other systems. Simply put, they are easier to maintain.


While the initial cost of CO2-related eqiupment may be greater than existing systems, installation is actually less because the copper pipes are smaller. Copper is expensive, so smaller pipes mean less time brazing – and dramatically lower labor costs. The cost of the CO2 itself is also less than other kinds of refrigerants.

And, while there was a time not too long ago when there were strict limits to how much freezer versus cooler space could be placed under one roof, improvements in technology now allow for much larger refrigerated warehouses to be built – a welcome sign for any growing concern.

Indeed, as more and more customers are required to move away from CFCs and other gasses deemed harmful to the environment, it becomes safer to say CO2 is here to stay as a long-term solution.

CO2 has been around for refrigeration longer than freon. Maintenance is much easier. Machines seem to last longer. And the refrigeration effect is much more ferocious, so the system doesn’t have to run as long or as hard as with other refrigerants.

Dan Palubiak

COO, Zone Mechanical

A Zone Mechanical technician installs an insulated panel at a warehouse site.
Zone Mechanical uses copper piping in its CO2 refrigeration systems