Sustainability is a growing priority the grocery world, with large chains from Kroger to Albertsons to Wal-Mart are integrating sustainable practices into their operations. Some of these initiatives are as simple as implementing new policies for procurement or waste management, while others - such as energy efficiency retrofits - are more complex and often require large capital investments. For some grocers, the upfront capital required to implement these changes could be prohibitive. So what is a grocery store that wants to make a sustainable impact to do?
When making capital-intensive upgrades to facilities most organizations use the payback period - the amount of time required to recover the initial capital outlay through increased profits or savings to determine which projects to undertake. Generally, a payback period of two to three years is considered adequate. Retrofits such as LED lighting and high efficiency HVAC equipment usually fall within this simple payback period and are appealing to businesses with less available capital. However, increasing the efficiency of an energy-intensive walk-in freezer or distribution center through a thermal energy storage (TES) system will not only boost sustainability but also help cut energy costs by up to 35 percent. Viking Cold Solutions’ TES system shifts energy consumption to cooler and less expensive hours and uses its proprietary phase change material (PCM) during warmer more expensive hours to maintain stable temperatures inside the freezer while idling refrigeration equipment. Additionally, TES can be integrated with renewable energy sources such as solar to further reduce consumption of over-night grid power by up to 95 percent.
A TES system brings immediate sustainability benefits and long-term cost saving advantages, but simple payback calculations vary based on the local cost of energy. Large capital expenditures tie up credit and reduce available capital for alternative investment or other sustainability initiatives. For grocery stores who want sustainability but without a large up-front cost, Viking Cold Solutions provides a risk-free service model that eliminates this obstacle. In the same way businesses pay a subscription fee for software, Viking Cold allows customers the benefits of a TES system with fixed monthly payments. The payment is guaranteed to be less than the energy savings the system provides so grocers are cash-flow positive from day one. These payments include 24/7 monitoring and notification services that help keep track of energy consumption and identify other mechanical issues before they become more costly problems.
This service model is not only applicable to smaller grocery businesses; grocery chains with a large portfolio of facilities - including stores and distribution centers - can implement TES across all freezer facilities and reap the benefits of reduced energy consumption while dropping more cash to the bottom line. TES can make an immediate impact by reducing energy costs and making operations more sustainable, and the Viking Cold service subscription can help make that happen more quickly and painlessly.