Retail Case Study: Purchase Power
A Chat With Mark Macomber Energy Project Manager Ahold USAWhat are your responsibilities for Ahold USA, the parent company of Stop & Shop? I am the energy project manager for all Ahold USA locations. The company has four divisions, with over 750 stores in all. These are Stop & Shop New England; Stop & Shop New York Metro; Giant-Landover; and Giant-Carlisle and Martin’s. Currently, there are about 400 Stop & Shop stores operating in seven states. How long have your worked for Ahold USA? I have been with the company for seven years. When I started here in 2005, I was in the energy management systems group and did control system design and troubleshooting. After two years I went to work in our maintenance department overseeing refrigeration, HVAC, and controls maintenance for approximately 100 stores. I did that for one year and then transitioned back into my energy project manager role. What would you say have been one or two notable developments in the facility energy field during your career? I think the two biggest things have been the advancements in LED lighting technology as well as the advancements in renewable energy technology—and the price drops for both. Since we installed our first solar panel system in 2008 there has probably been at least a 50% drop in price to install such a system.
Beyond LightingOther equipment that has been overhauled at the store are the motors that run the refrigeration systems in the back of house coolers and freezers. “Since 2009, we’ve operated ECM [electronically commutated motors] equipment in those spaces,” says Macomber. “This is the highest efficiency type of motor available.” ECMs are DC motors that function using a built-in inverter and a magnet rotor. As a result, these are able to achieve greater efficiency in air flow systems than some kinds of AC motors. ECMs are also relatively low maintenance; the use of true ball bearings reduces the need for oiling, and varied start-up speeds cut stress on mounting hardware. These motors work as part of a larger refrigeration system that the company uses to lower energy consumption as much as possible. Stop & Shop stores employ a refrigeration system designed to meet the specific cooling needs of the products housed while, at the same time, minimizing energy use. This flexibility is accomplished through electronic temperature sensors installed throughout the display cases that feed information to controllers that manage the compressors and the remote air cooled condenser fan motors. The refrigeration systems also use energy saving glass doors, light diffusers, and low-energy anti-sweat heaters on glass freezer cases to reduce electric loads further. Up on the roof, the Dedham store began using solar energy in May 2010 for a portion of its electricity needs. Stop & Shop installed its first solar photovoltaic (PV) system on its Fairfield, CT store in 2008, and the Dedham store was one of three locations chosen for the second round of installations. The PV panels currently provide about 7% of the facility’s energy needs. “We received a grant through the Commonwealth Solar program, administered by the state of Massachusetts, to help finance the PV system,” says Macomber. “This brought the cost to a desirable point for us.” Whether it’s a lighting project or other energy improvement, the company seeks a payback of between two to three years. The on-site store managers are brought into these test projects before installation to provide insight they have from working in the store each day. They are also consulted to ensure as smooth a transition as possible during a system installation. Macomber explains, “When we are testing a product for a potential project, we make sure someone from the store takes a look at what we are doing, and we take that person’s feedback into consideration. In terms of project implementation, we work with the managers there to minimize disruption. However, much of what we have done has been at night, so that’s not often an issue.”
Standardizing SolutionsSince the company’s first comprehensive attempt to build a more environmentally friendly store in 2001, Stop & Shop has continued to research and implement cost-effective, impactful features to further that goal. In 2007, a Southbury, CT store was the company’s first location to be recognized by the EPA’s Energy Star program. Aware that energy performance is only one aspect of high performance building, Stop & Shop continued to explore ways to reduce environmental impact. This aim took the form of the company participating in the pilot of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Volume Program, which focuses on certification for organizations that operate multiple facilities in their real estate portfolios. In 2007, Stop & Shop was the only supermarket chain in the U.S. selected to participate in the pilot program. As a result, 51 existing stores were LEED Certified by 2009, and company policy became that every new store be built to LEED standards. As an existing store, the Dedham, MA location has not been certified, but through energy retrofits and other improvements, that site is increasingly operating to LEED parameters. Macomber explains, “Every new store we build today is designed for us to pursue LEED certification, whether it is Certified or Silver.”
Applying Lessons LearnedMacomber’s work at the Dedham store impacts other Stop & Shop stores in a two way exchange. Changes implemented at the store are often resulting from positive findings put to the test in other stores; meanwhile, strategies that are first explored at Dedham have made their way to other stores and also have been added to the company’s ever evolving store prototype. Commenting on the multi site nature of his work, Macomber says, “For us, the lighting projects have ultimately been the easiest to deploy. This is because the majority of our stores are pretty standard. The footprint and layout are generally the same. There may be nuances between some of the stores but, for the most part, anytime we perform a frozen food LED project or a track lighting project it’s standard in terms of the scope.” And as the Dedham store continues to be one of the company’s focal points for exploring improvements, the company maintains the momentum by revisiting the Stop & Shop prototype regularly. In recent months, a store opened that is designed to the most current prototype. “The prototype is revisited almost daily,” says Macomber. “We’re constantly finding ways to make improvements and changes, and it’s a constant, evolving process for us.” This article was based on an interview with Macomber from Stop & Shop. [note]
Project Information:Name of Organization: Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC. Type of Facility: Existing. Function of Facility: Retail supermarket. Location: Dedham, MA. Square Footage: 82,885. Project Timetable: Store opened 2006; Energy improvements January 2009 to January 2011. Facility Owner: The Wilder Companies. In-House Project Manager: Mark Macomber. Energy Services: Bluestone Energy Services, LLC. [/note]
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