St. Lucia Stores Take a Risk with Green Technology That Pays Off

Jan 30, 2019

About

Location: Massy Stores Ltd., St. Lucia
Author and Divisional Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications: Sariah Best-Joseph
Managing Director: Martin Dorville
Division Head, Operations: Janice Edwards Lionel 
Deputy Divisional Head Business Continuity, Loss Prevention & Risk: Caron Charlemagne
Department: Operations and Business Continuity
Difficulty, LED Project: Medium
Difficulty, HVAC Project: Very Difficult
Store Specs: The nine supermarkets range from 7,000 to 15,000 square feet

Strategy

Over the past six years, we have been remodeling our stores to become more energy efficient through the installation of LED lights, efficient refrigeration and HVAC systems, and solar PV systems. These efforts demonstrate our commitment to the reduction of fossil fuel energy consumption, our business continuity strategy considering we are in a hurricane-prone zone, and our social responsibility to reduce the negative impact on the health of our people and environment.

In 2013, we began the journey and substantially completed retrofitting all of the lighting in our locations with LED lights. The process was high risk—the technology was not truly tested and some products were questionable—but we had a lighting challenge at our club store, where our incandescent high bay lamps were costly to maintain and provided poor quality lighting for the facility. After numerous customer complaints, we decided to change out the lights to a more efficient and effective solution. We then decided to expand this project to all our facilities.

Rodney Bay_Wine section-2

In addition, six of our 11 stores were remodeled between 2014 and 2017, during which we installed more modern and efficient refrigeration and HVAC systems. The work is ongoing, and our intention is for all HVAC systems to work effectively with the refrigeration system to ensure proper cooling and dehumidification. This will ultimately result in a more comfortable shopping environment for customers.

In January 2019, work commenced on the installation of two photovoltaic systems at two locations (based on the maximum allowed by legislation) to further reduce our energy consumption of diesel-generated electricity. A photovoltaic system, also known as a Solar PV system, is an energy system that is designed to transform the energy from the sun into electricity by means of photovoltaics, also known as solar panels.

Our customers have been happy with the upgrades, seeing a noticeable difference in lighting and commenting on how pleased they are that the stores are remodeled within a six-week period. Our stores have also benefitted from a significant reduction in energy costs—at the end FY 2016, we had realized a reduction in energy usage of approximately five percent, resulting in over EC $700,000 (U.S. $260,000 lower electricity cost).

$260,000
in energy cost savings

5%
energy use reduction

6-week
remodel time

Why it Works

For Our Shoppers

  • Better shopping experience. Customers have a better visual of the products thanks to better lighting.
  • Fewer customer complaints. We have received a reduction in complaints about poor lighting and eyestrain and shoppers are buying more items.
  • More valuable use of real estate. Utilization of the refrigeration rack system, which is one piece of equipment with an overhead condenser, reduces the space needed for equipment storage and installation.

For Our Store

  • Increased profits and sustainability. The solar PVs reduce fossil fuel use, protect from electrical rate fluctuations, and build business continuity resilience—we may still have some power if there is damage to the grid.
  • More cost effective store. The systems have improved food safety, resulting in reduced losses due to spoilage. Prep rooms are functioning at optimum temperatures, which prolongs the life of perishable items.
  • Improved maintenance response. Rack systems are computerized with a built-in alert system, allowing the technicians to review the performance of cases and identify issues before they happen.
  • Better working conditions for team members.

Rodney Bay_Produce Area-2

Tactics

  • Assemble a knowledgeable team. The first step is to find experts in each field involved: refrigeration, architecture, building construction, etc. From there, you will develop a plan and direction.
  • Create an energy efficient layout. Energy efficiency requires a multi-faceted approach, which encompasses building construction, refrigeration, HVAC system, décor, and more. In short, your entire store layout needs to be centered on energy efficiency. You also need to have the right technical support to achieve your goals.
  • Seek multiple bids and get proper references. In keeping with good governance, use a tendering system for all solutions and evaluate several contractors. Inferior products impact LED lighting solutions, so get references to ensure you select the right supplier and quality of product. Cheaper may not always be better.

Pricing

The following affect the cost of these solutions:

  • Type of solution—type of racks, piping methods, etc.
  • Size of the operation.
  • Location—factor shipping and handling into your total cost.
  • Availability of supplies.

Pro Tips

  • Make the investment. We would encourage anyone wanting to switch to LED lights to do so. The downsides are few and the benefits numerous, including the environmental impact.
  • Upgrade to rack systems. These systems are faster to install and require fewer electrical connections than traditional split units. A single point electrical power connection is made to the rack as opposed to running power connections to individual condensing units. Thanks to the faster installation process, we avoided displacing customers from their favorite store for more than six weeks.
  • Choose the best refrigeration system for your store to avoid service disruptions. We didn't want our customers to experience many disruptions to their shopping service because of refrigeration challenges. The compressor distribution load system allows for maintenance on compressors without shutting down the cases. If one compressor is down, the others pick up the load. Customer shopping is rarely impacted, as repairs and maintenance can take place anytime.
  • Make easy improvements. We replaced some traditional open display cases with cases featuring transparent doors. These coverings further reduce the energy loss from hot air.
  • Get a legally binding warranty. Some LEDs go bad, so ensure you have a warranty.
  • Calculate your payback period. Our payback period on the LED lights was about one year; in some cases less. The payback period on solar panels may be longer than the company’s ROI bench mark, but it still benefits our business continuity plan and will reduce our energy costs.

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