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    PG Web Extra: Food City’s Power Play

    Store saves energy with cutting-edge equipment and tech

    Credit: Fresh Air Photo

    Along with its offerings and services, the Food City store in Johnson City, Tenn., boasts state-of-the-art equipment and technology, with a laser-sharp focus on energy efficiency.

    Particularly notable among those features, according to Store Design and Drafting Assistant Brandon Butler, are “our LED lights, starting from inside the parking lot to the store. … [A]ll the way from in the offices, the pharmacies, all the walk-in cooler freezers, everything has LED lights. All of the refrigerated cases that you see inside the store are all equipped with LED lights. That not only saves energy from the light, but also keeps … from putting more heat into the case.”

    Another energy-saving move was to install, wherever possible, medium-temperature refrigerated cases with doors on them. “With the exception of a few isolated areas, well over 80 percent of our refrigerated cases in this store have doors on them,” notes Butler.

    Some of the innovations adopted by the Johnson City store were actually requirements of the municipality’s building code that Food City has decided to add to its new stores going forward. As Butler explains: “As you walk in the store, there’s actually two sets of doors. That’s one of the new concepts actually required by the city of Johnson City that we started implementing. Creating that true airlock within the vestibule helps with the overall HVAC system in the store.”

    The store also makes extensive use of natural lighting. “You see skylights all throughout the store, and the use of natural light, the dimming of fluorescent lights on the sales floor any time you can dim those,” says Butler, noting that these practices “obviously save a good amount of energy.”

    Beyond the store’s visible features, Butler points out some important behind-the-scenes systems. “Something that you really can’t see is the heat reclaim,” he observes. “The heat that we pull from the refrigeration system, from the cases, we actually use to warm the water for the hot-water supply in the store, so we save quite a bit of energy by doing that.”

    A further item unseen by shoppers “the variable-frequency drive for our main HVAC unit throughout the entire store, so as the store’s starting to shut down at night, and you start [turning things off,] we take that main HVAC system and start to crank it down, thus saving some energy,” adds Butler.

    The result of all of these energy efficiency efforts? Since the first Food City flagship store of this caliber was built, in 2007, “we actually are [using] 40 percent less kilowatt-hours [of energy] per square foot,” says Butler, “so we feel that all the things that we talked about, the LED lights, the refrigerated cases, really contribute to that.”


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