Supermarket retailer Pete’s Fresh Market is recognized as one of the greenest supermarket retailers in the U.S., but something sets its nine-store Chicago-based operation’s green mission apart from other chains. The chain records energy data, utilizing equipment that has proven effective at other locations.
Consequently, each new store becomes more energy efficient than its predecessor. For example, the new 62,000-square-foot Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., store uses air curtains, dedicated outdoor air dehumidification, high-efficiency rooftop HVAC units, CO2 refrigeration systems, a green roof, and energy recovery equipment that had been successfully tested in previous stores.
For Eugene Grzynkowicz, senior project development executive, Pete’s Fresh Market, going green is environmental, but it is also a long-term solution to reducing supermarket operational costs. “With all the federal money available and utility incentives, we’re trying to take advantage of today’s green technology, as long as it works,” he said.
Air curtains, for example, appear on all nine of Pete’s stores. Air curtains are best known as chemical-free sanitation alternatives to eliminating flying insect infiltration through food service back entrance pedestrian and shipping doors, especially in California, which has a state health code mandating them.
Like many supermarkets, Pete’s has back entrance air curtains, but takes the technology one step further. The Oakbrook Terrace store has Mark II Series air curtains manufactured by Berner Intl., New Castle, Pa., above the front entrance’s automatic double sliding doors on an entry and exit vestibules.
Grzynkowicz said the air curtains target flying insect infiltration, but are equally important in conserving energy and keeping employees and customers comfortable — especially during the checkout process — during the winter months. The air curtains keep indoor and outdoor environments separate by sealing the doorways with a strong airstream, especially since all vestibules become energy-losing wind tunnels when both doors open simultaneously. Furthermore, nearby employees and customers get supplemental heating with an onboard, thermostatically controlled 20-kW electric heating coil.
Installed by mechanical contractor B and N Sheet Metal Co., Chicago, the three-speed air curtains include an onboard programmable control package. When the door opens, a low-voltage magnetic read switch simultaneously activates the air curtain’s highest programmed speed and electric heater, the latter only if needed for surrounding indoor air comfort. After closing, the control package automatically switches the motor to a low speed, and the thermostat delays the shutoff of the air curtain and electric heater shutoff until the surrounding area’s set point temperature is satisfied.
For aesthetics, Berner Intl. Corp.’s custom metal shop also extended the front entrance’s 6-foot-wide air curtains with a 3-foot-long false panel on each end to span past the door opening and reach each end of the 12-foot-wide aluminum and glass entrance frame, according to Scott Williamson, vice president, R. Williamson & Associates LLC, a Skokie, Ill.-based manufacturer’s representative that specializes in exhaust fans, air handlers, and air curtains. The air curtains are ceiling-hung with thin diameter aircraft cables that virtually disappear visually from a distance. “Pete’s is a very high-end space, and the air curtains are custom-designed and installed to maintain that appearance,” Williamson said.
Besides air curtains, Pete’s is saving energy with dedicated outdoor air dehumidifiers by Munters Corp. to reduce the air conditioning loads, equipment sizes, and number of rooftop units on each store.
Pete’s also recovers heat from its 22-foot-high ceilings with 1,600 cfm space heaters by Modine Mfg. Co. that supplement 55,000 Btu modulating condensing boilers by Buderus, a division of The Bosch Group, to warm up the frozen food and dairy aisles for customer and employee air comfort. The space heaters and boilers were installed by United Mechanical Corp., Bensenville, Ill.
Pete’s other green measures include Air Pear fan systems by Airius LLC, refrigeration rack and HVAC refrigerant management utilizing the UltraSite Control System by Emerson Climate Technologies, and others, including cold cathode lighting, shade trees for asphalt coverage, hot water reclaim, sensor light controls, and recycled building materials.
Now, with several stores boasting energy-saving track records, Pete’s plans to combine many of those technologies in its 10th store, which was scheduled for completion in late 2013. The store is aiming for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification, making it one of the most energy-efficient supermarkets in the world.