This case study describes the installation of ecobee EMS thermostats in an occupied 1,700,000 square foot grocery retailer warehouse and office campus in Denver, Pennsylvania in January 2012. This massive 13 year-old facility is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and employs approximately 1000 people. SUPERVALU® was able to realize a return on investment within one week of installing the ecobee EMS thermostats.
SUPERVALU®, the 3rd largest food wholesaler in the United States moved into an astounding 1.7 million square foot warehouse and office space located in Denver, Pennsylvania in 1999. The facility acts as the redistribution hub for SUPERVALU®’s banner stores and several independent retail stores in the North Eastern United States. The immense building—often referred to as a “campus” by facilities staff—employs approximately 1000 people in the warehouse, transportation garage and business office areas of the building. Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, the facility has 8 giant 4-million BTU furnace units that have the capacity to control a space up to a staggering 825,000 square feet. In addition the building boasts 214 loading docks, electrically actuated vents and 102 industrial-sized exhaust fans throughout the facility.
With an outdated HVAC control system that even SUPERVALU®’s own HVAC technicians had difficulty deciphering, and after years of complaints from employees about their discomfort in the space, Eric Strunk, SUPERVALU®’s Facility Maintenance Supervisor began researching alternatives.
According to the quotations they received, in order to simply update their existing system it was going to cost an estimated $200,000, and it would have been significantly more if they wanted to implement an entirely new system. After conducting his own research and realizing that ecobee had the potential to meet all of the facility’s needs—at a small fraction of the cost—Eric decided to purchase and install an ecobee EMS unit to test on one of their heating/cooling units.
After a 4-month trial period with the product, Eric was convinced that the ecobee EMS was a perfect fit to control the facility’s heating and cooling system. He began wiring, retrofitting, and installing 7 more ecobee EMS thermostats throughout the facility with the help of another facilities employee. The EMS units are located in the warehouse, office spaces, cafeteria and kitchen areas. Over the next several months, Eric
plans to install 10-20 additional EMS thermostats throughout the space.
After installing the ecobee EMS units, SUPERVALU® has been able to realize tremendous benefits that have helped to save a substantial amount of energy and money, improve the quality of life for facilities staff and increase employee comfort.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Remarkably, SUPERVALU® saw a full return on their investment within the first week of installing the ecobee EMS units. “We used to run all of our fans all night long. After installing the ecobee EMS thermostats, we realized we could maintain the same comfortable temperature by staggering the fan runtimes. This has equated to huge savings. We were so astounded by the immediate energy and cost savings we saw with the product—we couldn’t wait to share our savings with the folks at ecobee,” said Strunk.
SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
Given the scope and size of the facility—and the units the thermostats are hooked up to—Eric turned to ecobee’s Customer Support line throughout the installation whenever he had a question. “In one word, I consider ecobee’s Technical Support to be outstanding. In fact, I think the quality of ecobee’s Customer Service is a benchmark that all other technology companies should strive to achieve. I can’t even begin to
describe how happy I am with the support I have received from ecobee,” said Strunk. He continues, “Once we got the wiring from the old system figured out, the installation of the ecobee EMS thermostats was quite simple to do—pretty impressive considering the complexity of the equipment we were working with.”
Additionally, the ongoing collaboration that took place between ecobee and SUPERVALU® throughout this installation brought to light an
opportunity to optimize the products’ performance even further. “By establishing a partnership, working together, and listening to the customer’s needs, ecobee was able to create and release a new improved firmware that all of our EMS customers are now enjoying the benefits of,” said Mark Malchiondo, ecobee’s Vice President of Software Development.
Eric, enjoys being able to control the heating and cooling for a whopping 1.7 million square feet of space right from his office computer, home
computer and mobile devices. “The User Interface is so simple and easy to use—I log onto my ecobee Web Portal at least once a day, and can troubleshoot issues from anywhere,” said Strunk. He continued, “I used to have to walk from one end of the building to another if I wanted to make a temperature adjustment, shut fans on or off, or troubleshoot an issue—and in a 1.7 million square foot facility that can take up a significant amount of time. Now, I can do it all remotely from anywhere there’s an internet connection, even on my iPad.”
With the old system, the Facilities Maintenance Supervisor received several complaints on a daily basis from office and warehouse employees regarding the temperature of the building. It seemed the facility was always either too hot or too cold. Since the installation of the ecobee EMS units, SUPERVALU® employees are much more comfortable in the space, and several individuals have even made note of the improvement to facilities staff. “I was so impressed by the ecobee product, I purchased an ecobee thermostat for my own home,” concluded Eric.