Larry’s Markets, Seattle, Washington
270,000 Total Sq. Feet
Annual cash savings: $75,000.00
Annual kWh savings: 2 million
Payback period: 18 Months
Since 1990, Larry’s Markets, a 5-store, Seattle-based grocery market chain, has practiced energy conservation measures providing a total savings in the six figures. When grocery stores were built in the 1970s and 1980s, the design goals were to conform to building codes and to display food. Little thought was given to energy use. In the early 1990s, when Larry’s Markets were facing rate hikes and energy bills of half a million dollars, they conducted energy audits to see where some of these costs could be cut. Since then, energy-saving measures have been incorporated, and upgrades in four of the five stores are complete.
Larry’s Markets began with lighting upgrades. Forty-watt T-12 lamps with standard magnetic ballasts were converted to 32-watt T-8 lamps with electronic ballasts. Incandescent lamps were replaced with compact fluorescents. Skylights in some stores made daylighting an alternative, and dimmers were installed to achieve optimum light levels. Timed controls were also installed to minimize energy used to light areas at night. Reflectors replaced lamps in refrigerated cases, allowing them to stay cool more efficiently, and occupancy sensors shut lights off when rooms or areas are not in use.
Larry’s Markets upgraded HVAC systems also. One store’s heating and cooling equipment is managed with direct digital controls (DDC), which provide time delay, night setback, and humidity regulation. The frozen food display cases in the stores have anti-sweat humidity controls that are managed with DDC, which reduce heater use by half; and an air-to-air heat exchanger pre-cools refrigeration system air.
The stores also feature CFC- and HCFC-free refrigeration; DDC for lighting, HVAC, and refrigeration; and remote communication and monitoring of these systems.
Conservation and efficiency occurs in every department of each store, sometimes requiring investments yielding no monetary return. For example, the markets now compost their food waste, saving 15 percent of the water used in grinding the garbage in a disposal. Other water conservation occurs outside the stores. Larry’s Markets incorporate xeriscaping, the use of vegetation that requires minimum watering, in their landscaping.
Corporate staff want more from their investment than dollar savings, though. They want employees to conserve energy because they want to, not just because it’s store policy. So Larry’s trains employees in energy efficiency and conservation.
Brant Rogers, director of environmental affairs, says that Larry’s Markets recognizes that the investments made now bring a dividend of a cleaner environment and more loyal clientele later.
Although utilities located near the stores financed some of these upgrades through demand-side management programs, Larry’s Markets paid for the rest. One study estimates the total utility savings in one store will be near $750,000 for the years between 1990 and 2000. Rogers makes the following comparison: “I spend one percent of my gross sales on utility costs (electricity, water, gas, sewer, and garbage disposal). My net profit is also one percent. So, implementing upgrades and practices that cut my utility costs by 20 percent is the same as achieving a 20-percent increase in net profit. If I didn’t implement these efficiency measures, I’d need to experience a $20-million increase in gross sales to match it. That’s a lot of bread and butter!”
Statistics show that the Larry’s Markets chain saves more than two million kilowatthours per year from its energy upgrades. These environmental savings, made Larry’s Markets EPA’s 1996 Small Business Partner of the Year.