Three Ways to Win Energy Management Gold During Extreme Weather Events
By Jason Roeder, PowerhouseDynamics
As weather patterns and energy costs become less predictable, the need to maximize savings, gain control and monitor energy usage with minimum staff effort moves from the “nice-to-have” to “must-have list.”
Recent HVAC benchmarking data from the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association suggests that the majority of retail chains have adopted some type of on-site energy management system. This demonstrates that energy management issues are important – and solving them is not insurmountable. Retailers that lack on-site energy expertise can successfully tackle energy monitoring and control. Using an Energy Management System to centrally monitor, control and analyze store environments can be the ticket to achieving consistent customer experiences, controlling electric and gas consumption and supporting sustainability efforts.
But how to get there?
Preparation. Skill. Dedication.
Cue the trumpets and national anthems. Welcome to the Polar Vortex Olympics.
The same factors that guided athletes on the road to Sochi enable operations and facilities managers to keep a nationwide portfolio of sites comfortable during brutally cold winters and long hot summers. For smart energy management, channel your inner athlete and keep cash registers ringing.
For someone managing facilities from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, preparation is important – from ongoing execution of standard preventive maintenance to finding and securing a network of good service providers and more. In addition to these basics, preparation for extreme weather also means remote control of your HVAC fleet. This would have been prohibitively expensive five or 10 years ago, but the substantial drop in cost (and expansion in capabilities) of cloud-based heating and cooling control puts this level of preparation well within reach. Remote control, if coupled with sufficiently flexible software, allows for enterprise-wide changes to be made in advance of or during extreme weather, ensuring customer comfort.
In the midst of a severe weather event, many locations will certainly report problems. In order to efficiently address all of the complaints flooding in, the medal winner must have the right equipment. Real-time visibility into key performance indicators is now possible for common roof-top heating and cooling units (RTUs). Available data include thermostat set points, room temperatures, RTU electrical usage and, in some cases, supply and/or return duct temperatures. These data types help the fleet manager separate the inbound complaints into two categories: thermostat program issues and equipment performance issues.
The chart below shows an example of an equipment performance issue recently discovered by a retailer.
In this case, the thermostat set point of 68 degrees is correct, but the lack of appropriate electrical usage (the green lines) reveals that the fan is not running on this unit while it calls for heat. No changes to the thermostat are going to solve this – only a visit from the HVAC tech, armed with this key information, will earn the gold.
The Winter Olympics are held only every four years, and in many cases, extreme weather events like the recent Polar Vortex are similarly infrequent. This means that many months, or even most years, will pass without a glaring moment of truth. It therefore requires dedication to best practices and an investment of time and money in order to be ready for unexpected severe weather. Modern energy management systems can continually expose equipment performance issues that may be hiding in plain sight between extreme weather events. Some RTUs can pass through recurring filter changes and belt tightenings, and still underperform. It takes a dedicated system to find those latent problems so that you’re medal-ready when the Polar Vortex Olympics arrive.
In the Olympics, the difference between gold and last place can be a few milliseconds. Similarly, the difference between a good year of retail sales and a bad one may be only one week of sales that were lost to bad weather. Thanks to equipment advances in both arenas, new records can be achieved.
The good news is that even without a dedicated on-site team, there is no reason why all HVAC fleet managers can’t ultimately win the gold. It just takes preparation, skill and determination.
Jason Roeder, is director of energy products and services of PowerhouseDynamics, which delivers energy and operational efficiencies to its multi-site customers through cloud-based controls and analytics. He can be reached at [email protected].
BJ’s selects PromoWorks to run demo biz
BJ’s Wholesale Club is outsourcing and expanding its product demonstration program with the help of Crossmark’s PromoWorks division.
Plans call for PromoWorks to manage, enhance and ultimately expand the company’s demo and events program. BJ’s current demo and events staff, made up of approximately 1,400 employees, will be given priority to apply for the demo program with PromoWorks, which plans to grow the current program by more than 25% or about 500 jobs, the companies said it a joint statement.
“Demos and sampling are critical to a positive member shopping experience,” said Laura Sen, president and CEO of BJ’s. “After extensive examination of our demo and events program, we came to the conclusion that to build on BJ’s already-strong program, the company needed to add specialized expertise and resources, which is why BJ’s chose to work with PromoWorks, one of the most innovative events companies out there.”
PromoWorks expects to complete the transition of BJ’s demo program – conducting hiring fairs for current BJ’s demo team members, adding new demo staff and training the entire team by the end of April 2014. The newly expanded program will ultimately be comprised of more than 2,000 people.
“I’m confident that the enhanced program will come together quickly because it will be built on the strong foundation established by BJ’s knowledgeable and passionate demo team members,” said Crossmark EVP Jim Norred. “Our goal is to elevate the current program from an already solid foundation, further enhancing the shopping experience for BJ’s Members while creating potential career and training opportunities for BJ’s current Demo team.”
BJ’s operates 201 warehouse clubs throughout the Eastern United States offering roughly 7,000 items.
Cal-Maine Foods’ Jack Self has died
Cal-Maine Foods’ VP of operations-production Jack B. Self has died at the age of 84. Self had been an employee of Cal-Maine Foods since 1968.
“All of us at Cal-Maine Foods are deeply saddened by the death of our good friend and colleague, Jack Self,” said chairman, president and CEO Dolph Baker. “He has been a valued member of the Cal-Maine Foods family for more than 46 years and played an important role in the company’s growth and development. More importantly, Jack served as a great mentor and teacher to many of us throughout the company. He was also well respected in our industry and has built a legacy that will survive him in the years to come. During the coming days, our prayers and support will be with Jack’s family.”
Self served as VP of operations and production since 1977 and served as a director since 1983.