Energy Audits Reveal Areas Where Cold Storage Facilities Can Save Money

Cold storage facilities, the kind found in the produce, fresh foods, and floral industries, offer huge opportunities for energy savings. A recent article in Fresh Digest looks at how one company helps.

It isn’t a secret that both companies and state utilities are looking for ways to make energy consumption more efficient. From state mandates, to incentives programs for businesses, there is a growing economic desire for energy efficiency.

One area, however, that doesn’t receive the same type of attention as an area for improvement: commercial and industrial refrigeration systems. The kind found in cold storage facilities, production plants, distribution centers, floral greenhouses, and on down the line to grocery chains, restaurants, labs, and schools. Most of the spotlight goes to the measures that most affect office buildings such as air heating and cooling, and lighting.

But in many facilities, large refrigeration systems are running at 100% capacity and 24/7. This is an area for massive savings because there are controls products out there that automate run times and provide measures that more efficiently meet temperature requirements. In some cases, we’ve seen upwards of 40% energy savings for our own customers.

In a recent article for Fresh Digest, Tim Linden sat down with NRM after reaching out to some of our customers and learning about how our services helped them. For example, G&S Produce in Sacramento, CA achieved a 22% reduction in energy usage, resulting in about $9,000 in actual savings. A farm in Lexington, MA saw a 59% reduction in energy usage after upgrading all of their fan motors to more a more efficient style. Some of the larger facilities we’ve optimized the refrigeration for have seen over 100,000 kWh in annual energy savings.

He found that the process of energy efficiency optimization was nearly identical for each customer: it starts with a conversation about the business’ needs and goals, followed by an assessment of the health of the equipment, and an audit of the current energy consumption, and then an integration of new hardware and a controls platform. The platform optimizes the system to operate on a custom cooling schedule determined by the initial conversation with the customer.

And NRM’s platform connects all refrigerated spaces through an online dashboard, meaning the scheduling parameters can be adjusted with a smartphone as needed. The platform also hosts and analyzes operational data, and provides insight into mechanical faults if any exist.

Ted Kohlenberger, a veteran of the fresh produce industry and CA Team Lead for NRM, has seen countless success stories. “We rarely see anyone that doesn’t need our help,” he said. “Most people are old school and they don’t even realize they need help. It’s not uncommon to save a customer thousands of dollars per month.”

The true value of the product lies in its ability to spot issues in their infancy, according to President, Founder, and CEO of NRM, Emre Schveighoffer. “Real-time monitoring gives you the opportunity to address issues when they are happening, not after the fact,” he said. “You can have your finger on the pulse at all times.”

Losing a cold room’s worth of product, or a compressor, is every company’s worst nightmare. While some issues simply aren’t avoidable, many are if detected before they become catastrophic.

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