Few will dispute the growing importance of energy conservation. Whether the driver is as practical as cutting costs or as noble as minimizing the impact on the environment, reducing energy consumption is job No. 1 for many of the nation’s retailers. Senior editor Katherine Field talked with Denise Ernst, director of commercial marketing and product management for Richardson, Texas-based heating and air-conditioning system provider Lennox Industries, about products and solutions designed to meet retailers’ needs for scaling back energy use.
What do you think is the single biggest change a retailer could make with regard to sustainability?
That’s not a difficult question to answer. If you could just make one change that would have the most far-reaching environmental impact, it would have to be reducing energy consumption.
How important is the environment to your retail customers?
The importance of how our retailer clients’ operations affect the environment continues to grow. Some a re just getting started in their initiatives, while others have formalized programs that address all aspects of their business from the supply chain to the store operations. The emphasis grows with each passing year. We continually get asked how we can assist in achieving their sustainability goals.
Is sustainability the biggest driver of your business now?
Lennox Industries is deeply committed to helping consumers and businesses reduce energy needs and lessen their environmental impact. We offer a wide range of Energy Star-qualified products and products that enable our customers to meet their sustainability goals, such as obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for their buildings. Our facilities are continually working on waste minimization and pollution prevention. We recycle everything from raw materials to packaging on components. So, yes, sustainability is a huge driver of our business.
In your corner of the industry, what is the best way to reduce consumption?
It can actually be accomplished in a number of ways. For example, replacing even a single older rooftop unit with a new, more efficient model can make a significant difference for business and the environment. For example, replacing an older 20-ton unit (9 EER) with a 20-ton Lennox Energence rooftop unit (with an energy efficiency ratio of 12, or 12 EER) can save approximately 11,280 kWh per year, and reduce CO2 by 10.3 metric tons.
That’s roughly the equivalent of removing two passenger vehicles from the road!
As most large commercial buildings require multiple rooftop units, the savings can be tremendous (10 units saving over 111,280 kWH electricity annually or removing more than 20 cars from the road each year).
What else can an intelligent control system do toward reducing energy consumption?
In addition to superior unit energy efficiency, an intelligent control system can dramatically help building owners cut energy use, reduce operational costs and verify unit performance while helping utilities reduce peak and overall energy demands, thus minimizing impact on the environment.
What are some technologies that we can expect to see being implemented in retail stores that will have sweeping effects on both energy costs and environmental impact?
Improving energy efficiency both at part-load and full-load are being implemented in all aspects of retail stores from lighting to HVAC. Utilizing alternative energy sources (for example, solar or wind) to off-load peak consumption continues to grow, as does proactively working with utilities on an implementation plan for reducing peak consumption. We are seeing more and more chains modifying store design with the goal of improving energy efficiency.
Lennox was recently notified that it is a finalist for the Platts Global Energy Awards. Can you tell us a little about this?
Lennox’s Energence rooftop unit line—the industry’s only RTU line designed to achieve a 17.0 SEER, more than 30% over U.S. Department of Energy minimum standards—is being considered by Platts for Commercial Technology of the Year. It’s a great honor, as the Platts Global Energy Awards are among the most prestigious awards in the energy industry.