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The Weather Inside


Today’s sophisticated HVAC systems keep customers comfortable and improve energy efficiency, translating to a better bottom line.

The average grocery store spends two-thirds of its electrical bill on heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration.

That’s according to Greg DuChane, retail-restaurant vertical market leader at Trane, a Davidson, N.C.-based division of Ingersoll Rand, who notes that shoppers are becoming more environmentally conscious, which is driving grocers to implement sustainable practices and install efficient HVAC systems.

“With constant focus on research and development, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning solutions are becoming more energy-efficient,” he notes. “Even a small change in savings could make a big impact. Energy Star reports that energy savings of 10 percent can save costs equal to a 1.26 percent sales increase, which is a significant opportunity.”

Popular supermarket HVAC systems, DuChane says, are high-efficiency rooftop units and dedicated outside air units because they offer cost-effective performance, are easy to maintain, and often provide lifecycle cost advantages by minimizing the total cost of ownership of the asset over its entire useful life.

Trane offers a broad range of light and large commercial rooftop solutions, including the Voyager, Precedent and Intellipak systems, which feature humidity control and variable air flow to handle dehumidification while maintaining a comfortable environment, DuChane says. Trane also offers the CDQ — Cool Dry, Quiet — system, which uses dessicant technology to dehumidify the environment.

“These solutions can be used with the Trane Tracer Building Automation System, which provides centralized comfort control and energy management,” he notes.

Increasing numbers of grocery stores are also working to proactively track and manage energy, using remote monitoring, dashboards, and proprietary systems like Trane Intelligent Services, which uses advanced technology and analytics to continuously collect, interpret and act upon data compiled from building systems and other sources, DuChane explains. If operating anomalies are detected, Trane automatically responds or recommends steps the store can take to keep the building operating efficiently and within predetermined performance parameters.

In the future, DuChane concludes, “We anticipate complete integration of refrigeration and HVAC systems for optimized efficiency.”

Individual Solutions

Each specific supermarket requires different types of technologies, energy efficiencies, and heating and cooling options, says Chester Dilday, senior vertical sales manager for retail at Alpharetta, Ga.-based LG Electronics USA Inc.

Among LG’s HVAC technologies for supermarkets, Dilday says, are the LG Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV), used to deliver outside air with airflow ranges of 470 to 1,180 CFM (cubic feet per minute) while expelling stale indoor air and pollutants to the outside. The ERV system operates with little or no energy loss, by transferring heat and moisture from inside and outside while balancing humidity levels for improved comfort.

Dilday says that the new LG Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) is part of the VRF (variable refrigerant flow) system and can be used in multiple settings, meeting the needs of a wide variety of supermarkets. “The system provides 100 percent of the outdoor air needed to meet ventilation requirements, which helps optimize energy savings and performance with airflow ranges of 1,200 to 2,000 CFM,” he notes. “Its low-profile design allows for seamless installation above ceilings, and web-accessible controls deliver convenience and comfort.”

The LG Duct-Free Mini-Split (DFS) Heat Pumps provide efficient air distribution by pushing a small amount of refrigerants to cool indoors, instead of branching out to large package rooftop units, according to Dilday, who says the DFS Heat Pumps are designed to deliver significant energy savings and range from up to 3 tons for single-zone systems to 4.5 tons for multizone systems.

LG’s Heat Recovery VRF System, evident in units such as the LG Multi V IV, enhances energy efficiency, Dilday says, by allowing occupants to choose whether to cool or heat only the zones in use. It offers a more compact footprint and is lighter in weight than most other models on the market. This VRF system also offers a unique benefit for supermarkets, according to Dilday, in that it’s able to heat smaller spaces, such as a manager’s office, while cooling the main area of the store simultaneously.

Both the LG Heat Recovery VRF System and Heat Pump units have the ability to fit with various indoor fan-coil unit options, including ducted and nonducted, according to Dilday, providing maximum flexibility for supermarket owners in choosing the appropriate HVAC systems to implement in their respective stores. LG units are available on both Heat Recovery and Heat Pump configurations in a wide range of sizes, from under a ton to up to 48 tons.

LG HVAC systems, he continues, feature several different control systems for convenience, including Internet-accessible systems. Supermarket owners also have the ability to integrate an HVAC system into existing BMS/EMS systems through BACnet and LONWORKS gateways.

The future of HVAC units installed in supermarkets will include not only new higher-efficiency technologies, but also incorporate new design and construction processes, Dilday predicts. The HVAC industry is also expected to see integration with refrigeration systems through existing EMSs (energy management systems), improved lifecycle environmental considerations and lower total cost of ownership for equipment.

“More and more supermarkets are experimenting with ‘store of the future’ designs that incorporate multiple specialized zone areas, as compared to the traditional open-floor layout,” Dilday says. “This is especially evident in the incorporation of expanded foodservice areas that have evolved from a deli area to full-service restaurants, international prepared foods areas and even cooking schools. The continuous evolution of store designs and layouts, more than ever, depends on a complex HVAC system that can integrate with the refrigeration systems to provide the needed individual space temperature and humidity needs.”

“Energy savings of 10 percent can save costs equal to a 1.26 percent sales increase, which is a significant opportunity.”
—Greg DuChane, Trane

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