ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans Food Markets here cut its energy costs by 8% at a local store that underwent a “recommissioning” project over the summer, when its refrigeration, lighting and heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) systems were adjusted and closely monitored.
The chain began a second energy recommissioning project last month and plans to recommission the rest of its 71 stores over a three-year period, according to Carol J. Duquette, Wegmans' vice president of design services and maintenance.
“Our goal was to get everything out of our mechanical systems we could possibly get,” said Robert Sperl, store maintenance division manager. “We recognized that the systems might not have been installed — or commissioned — perfectly. Hence the recommissioning, or going back and seeing what we missed the first time.”
In addition to cutting energy costs, the project also reduced maintenance costs and left the store “running better,” said Sperl. “It's tough to admit that we made mistakes in the beginning, but we got over that.”
The recommissioning project ran from mid-June to late July, though the bulk of the work took place during a two-week period, said Jim Vannan, Wegmans' energy manager of the design services development group. The project was done at a 130,000-square-foot store open for less than a year.
Duquette, Sperl, Vannan and three other Wegmans executives described the recommissioning effort last month at the Food Marketing Institute's Energy & Technical Services Conference in Orlando, Fla.
As a result of changes made at the store, Wegmans estimates it will save $4,862 annually in running its low-temperature refrigeration system; $17,558 in its medium-temperature refrigeration system; and $12,254 in its HVAC and lighting systems, according to Vannan.
Wegmans used an outside firm — Aztec Energy Partners, Conyers, Ga. — to manage the recommissioning project. Duquette declined to provide the cost of the project, but noted that “the savings were much more than the cost.”
A key objective in the initial project was to educate Wegmans' energy, maintenance and construction staff on the value of recommissioning, said Duquette.
Wegmans decided to focus its initial recommissioning efforts on stores built over the past few years, which are larger and use the most energy, said Vannan. In addition, those stores employ energy management systems that track energy usage and allow Wegmans personnel to measure the effect of changes made to refrigeration and HVAC systems. The Rochester store has CFC and Johnson Controls energy management systems.
To capture and track the store's energy management data, Wegmans recently established a dedicated server, Duquette said.
In the Rochester store, Aztec surveyed mechanical equipment and operational practices, and kept a log of all observations and changes. Operational issues included “overloading cases and leaving the freezer-box door open,” Vannan said.
Among the changes made: In the store's low-temperature refrigeration system, Wegmans adjusted the pressure and made sure store employees kept the freezer-box door shut as often as possible; in the medium-temperature system, the temperature of the glycol coolant was adjusted, two of three glycol pumps were turned off, and adjustments were made for some dairy cases; in the HVAC system, fans were shut off at night; and lighting of departments that closed at 9 p.m. was programmed to be turned off overnight.