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ROI within 7 Days – Supervalu success story

by on May 3, 2012

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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.  The 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 ecobee.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

SUPERVALU, the third largest food wholesaler in the US moved into a 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 facility—often referred to as a “campus”—employs approximately 1000 people in the warehouse, transportation garage and business office areas.  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.  The building has 214 loading docks, electrically actuated vents and 102 industrial-sized exhaust fans.

With an outdated HVAC control system that even SUPERVALU’s own HVAC technicians had difficulty deciphering, and after years of complaints from employees about discomfort, Eric Strunk, Facility Maintenance Supervisor began researching alternatives.

THE SOLUTION

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 one ecobee unit to test out.

THE INSTALLATION

After a 4-month trial period, Eric was convinced that ecobee was an ideal fit.  The EMS units were installed in the warehouse, office spaces, cafeteria and kitchen areas.

PROJECT OUTCOME

After installing ecobee, SUPERVALU has been able 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 installation.  “We used to run all of our fans all night long.  After installing ecobee, 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,” said Strunk.

SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Given the size of the facility—Eric turned to ecobee’s Customer Support team 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,” said Strunk.  He continues, “Once we got the wiring from the old system figured out, the installation was quite simple—pretty impressive considering the complexity of the equipment we were working with.”

The ongoing collaboration that took place between ecobee and SUPERVALU throughout this installation brought to light an opportunity to optimize 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.

REMOTE ACCESSIBILITY

Eric, enjoys being able to control the heating and cooling for a whopping 1.7 million square feet of space from anywhere.  “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, or shut fans on or off—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.”

EMPLOYEE COMFORT

With the old system, Eric 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, 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.