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Food retail businesses use energy at a higher rate than any other commercial building, averaging 51.5 kWh/sq ft. In small format convenience stores (c-stores), the energy usage is almost doubled, consuming on average 94 kWh/sq ft.

What makes this number so much higher than other food retailers such as supermarkets? A plethora of coolers and freezers, coffee warmers, hot food display cases, food service kitchens and more, all crammed in a relatively small space. HVAC units and lighting fixtures also consume significant amounts of energy, especially for the many c-stores that remain open 24 hours a day. In fact, HVAC/Refrigeration (HVACR) and lighting account for as much as 80% of a c-store’s overall energy use.

In addition to these three main culprits, c-store staples of fuel pumps and car wash facilities, along with a wide range of in-store and at-the-pump electronic devices, lead to an energy-rich operation.

C-Store Energy Saving Strategies

As energy costs rise and companies become more eco-conscious, c-store operators are beginning to seek out strategies to reduce energy use and cut costs. Upgrading to LED light fixtures and replacing aging refrigeration and HVAC equipment with more efficient models have proven to be popular and effective tactics for reducing energy use and costs. Another proven strategy is the implementation of intelligent, digital HVACR controls. Data shows that employing this technology leads to significant ROI due to energy savings.

A major advantage of using digital controls is the ability to control equipment based on actual local ambient conditions. Many refrigeration systems found in c-stores rely on roughly estimated ambient values based on geographical climate, often leading to equipment being overused, consuming excess energy.

Digital controls responding to real-time temperature and suction pressure readings can improve efficiency, preventing unnecessary power usage. HVAC systems are also significantly improved by intelligent controls, utilising necessary temperature and pressure readings rather than solely timers and schedules.

Similarly, lighting control can move beyond simple schedules by measuring light level with a photocell, preventing outdoor lights from coming on too early or staying on too long. The impact of lighting on c-store energy use is especially significant due to longer operating hours and extensive outdoor canopy lights for late-night gas pumping.

Embracing Digitalization and IoT in C-Stores

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices that are interconnected via the internet, sending and receiving data to other ‘things’ and systems. Whether we realise it or not, IoT has become interwoven into most of our daily lives, ranging from smart watches and fitness trackers to smart thermostats, security systems and vehicle diagnostics. IoT capabilities are becoming increasingly important in industrial, commercial and hospitality sectors, helping to increase the efficiency of processes and monitoring of conditions and equipment.

In many c-stores, the IoT is already being used in the form of loyalty accounts, online ordering and more. It can also open up many opportunities and advantages when utilized with HVACR control and monitoring, namely the benefit of remote visibility. 

Whether it’s a technician connecting with a tablet or smartphone over Wi-Fi, or a facilities manager on a computer thousands of miles away, remote access capabilities provide a multitude of benefits. It allows for predictive maintenance, where continuous live data is processed by software to help users determine when intervention is needed for equipment issues. By identifying problems early, maintenance costs are reduced and asset lifespan is extended.

Access to a system via the internet can also aid in the implementation and maintenance of energy-saving methods, as well as providing valuable data to measure the progress of environmentally conscious strategies and impacts of operating costs.

Futureproof IP System Featuring Truly Open Protocols

Resource Data Management (RDM) offers a complete, robust Building Management System solution for food retail stores, specializing in refrigeration, HVAC and lighting. The system uses IP (Internet Protocol) communication to integrate devices with a sophisticated front-end device, the DMTouch.

Control and Monitoring System Front End: DMTouch and miniDM

Further utilizing IP communications, the DMTouch can connect the system to a local network or make it accessible from anywhere. Additionally, the RDM system boasts truly open protocols, allowing devices using third-party communication protocols to integrate with the IP system managed by the DMTouch.

The DMTouch is designed to manage hundreds of devices in large sites such as supermarkets. For c-stores and other small format retail, a compact, cost-effective alternative to the DMTouch is available: the miniDM.

Featuring the same web browser-based software interface and features in a different hardware format, the miniDM is the perfect solution for c-stores that lack any visibility or management of HVACR devices. It offers the same suite of energy-saving software features available on the DMTouch.

Complete Control of HVAC, Refrigeration and Lighting

RDM’s application-specific controllers such as the Intuitive Circuit / Rack controller and Mercury Case Controller provide robust control strategies while offering users flexibility. These controllers feature inherent energy-saving capabilities such as Defrost Skip, as well as additional savings with the miniDM energy software features.

Remote Monitoring of Assets and Energy Consumption

ActiveFM is a software service offered by RDM, providing remote access, alarm handling and data analysis of sites with RDM control systems. Its most basic function is providing access from a central dashboard directly into the DMTouch or miniDM of a single site up to hundreds of stores distributed across the country. 

The Live Maps feature shows sites in a geographical view, conveying critical real-time data to assist operators with routine monitoring and investigation. Kwheb, an additional service within ActiveFM, provides an interface for comprehensive energy monitoring across an entire enterprise.

 Power monitoring data from individual sites is collated and can be used to calculate energy costs and carbon footprints. Providing access to an entire c-store’s system with the click of a button, ActiveFM further enables users to cut operating costs while reducing energy and meeting sustainability objectives.

To find out more about how c-stores can cut operating costs, download our latest whitepaper.

Refrigeration ENERGY | Posted on 10 Jun 2022


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