Keeping Its Cool

The cooling coils and piping on the ceiling are painted white and blend into the overall decor of the store.

Johnny Janosik World of Furniture, a 221,000-sq.-ft. furniture superstore and warehouse facility in Laurel, Md., is keeping energy costs in line due to an unconventional heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. while most retail stores of its size utilize packaged units on the roof, Johnny Janosik features a centralized system, or central plant.

The store’s heavy cooling requirements played a large part in the design of the HVAC system—its highly illuminated galleries generate an exceptional cooling load. The building contractor, The Whayland Co., Delmar, Del., researched HVAC solutions with regard to long-term operating efficiency. It ultimately selected M&M Refrigeration, a supplier of industrial refrigeration equipment and controls, as the HVAC systems contractor. M&M recommended the central-plant approach.

“Instead of multiple units on the roof, there is only the central one isolated in a machine room. The approach has a number of advantages, including that it is extremely efficient,” said Dave Odum, COO, M&M Refrigeration, Federalsburg, Md., which supplied the custom-built HVAC system.

Odum estimates that the centralized HVAC system saves the retailer $150,000 in utility costs. “And those savings are bound to go up given that the cost of energy keeps rising,” he added.

Going the central-plant route eliminated the roof penetrations that are necessary for packaged units.

“Without all those roof penetrations, you don’t have to worry as much about leaks,” Odum said. “Also, with the packaged units, each one has to be wired and such, and you also have to install drains. But with the central system, the wires and drains are only going to the one location, so it’s a more efficient installation.”

Isolated outside of the store, the system features 25 individual zone controllers. It is monitored by a system (also supplied by M&M) that operates off a PC in the building, with redundant monitoring and control by the supplier.

Ammonia: M&M specified a two-stage system where a very small ammonia charge cools a secondary fluid that is circulated to the cooling coils on the retail floor. Ammonia requires only 50% to 60% of the energy required by a conventional Freon-type technology.

“Ammonia is one of the most efficient and low-cost refrigerants, but there is a toxicity issue to it,” Odum said. “Because there are individual cooling units throughout the store, we isolated the ammonia in a remote machine room. It never comes in contact with the customers.”

About Johnny

Opened in late 2006, the 221,000-sq.-ft. Johnny Janosik World of Furniture, in Laurel, Del., is the flagship of family-owned Johnny Janosik Furniture.

Founded by Johnny Janosik, now 81 and retired, the Laurel, Del.-based company opened its first furniture showroom in 1978. Featuring an array of brands and mid-price points, the store took off, attracting shoppers from the nearby Maryland suburbs, as well as southern New Jersey, Philadelphia and Northern Virginia. Delaware has no sales tax, which helped fuel out-of-state business.

In addition to the flagship, Johnny Janosik operates two stores in Dover, Del., and a 22,000-sq.-ft. clearance center behind the megastore. The retailer draws from a wide radius (the company’s local delivery area includes the surrounding Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania communities). It is on track to do a reported $50 million plus in sales this year.

The secondary fluid used in the system is propylene glycol, a food-grade coolant that is 100% safe for human contact. The heat in the store is absorbed by the circulating glycol and removed from the store.

The building was built with a custom structural system from Butler Manufacturing Co., Kansas City, Mo., that uses its MR-24 standing-seam metal-roof system and Koratech panelized wall panels. The insulation value (R ratings) achieved in the roof assembly, combined with the high insulation value of the 6-in. wall panels, create an extremely well-insulated building envelope that complements the operating efficiency of the HVAC system.

The furniture store demonstrated its cool throughout this past summer. On one particularly hot day in August, temperatures in the parking lot reached 103 degrees. The temperature in the store held between 72 and 75 degrees, a differential of only three degrees over its 180,000-sq.-ft. (retail-sales-floor) footprint.

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