Ahold deploying energy-saving software in hundreds of stores

07/07/2011 09:52:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Ahold USA plans to install energy-saving software developed by EnerNOC in the majority of its more than 600 Stop & Shop, Giant Food of Maryland, and Giant/Martin locations.

According to Boston-based EnerNOC, its Web-based EfficiencySMART Insight solution can save retailers 5% a year on their energy bills.

The system pays for itself in a year, said Sarah McAuley, EnerNOC’s director of marketing communications. Some utility companies and local and state governments offer subsidies to offset the deployment of energy-saving programs, she added.

The program compares a retailer’s stores to each other, McAuley said, and pinpoints the most efficient and least efficient locations.

“It helps you identify what your best locations are doing and what your underperforming locations are doing,” she said. “You can take limited funds and staff time and focus on areas where it will have the biggest impact.”

Ahold now has EnerNOC hardware in some of its stores, and the new software will supplement what already is in use, McAuley said.

Paul Grenier, Ahold USA’s manager of energy, said in a June 14 news release that the retailer had been working with EnerNOC for six years.

“During that time, we have gained a much clearer view of our energy usage on a site-by-site basis,” he said. “EfficiencySMART Insight allows us to take those lessons to the next level by helping us compare usage across stores, identify leaders, and share best practices across all our locations.”

The program can identify low-cost and no-cost energy savings, McAuley said. For example, if an overnight cleaning crew or stockers override a setback — a timed program that calls for reduced lighting after a store closes — and fails to reset the program, the store could have all its lights on for an indefinite period.

“Our software looks at the load profile and will say, “Store 49 has a weird peak overnight,” she said. “Obviously something is wrong, and all it takes is a quick switch to correct the problem.”

The system also can point out things such as a broken carbon dioxide sensor, which can cause air handlers to cycle unnecessarily. Once a problem is detected, real-time alerts and alarms are sent to store managers.

“If one little piece is broken, you could be wasting hundreds or even thousands of dollars heating or cooling air you don’t need to be heating or cooling,” she said.

The Insight software isn’t just for retailers. Massachusetts has signed a $10 million contract to use the program in state colleges, government buildings and correctional facilities, McAuley said.



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