Whole Foods Could Benefit From
Better HVAC Controls
Located on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco, this Whole Foods is a high-volume store with significant foot traffic. The 25,633-square- foot building is open through 10 p.m. but has a continuously operating back kitchen. The property recently passed the 9% energy reduction mark, which puts it ahead of the
2020 schedule, explains Aaron Daly, Global Energy
Coordinator for Whole Foods.
The Hilton team started in the kitchen, which is a significant energy consumer for grocery stores. This space
is fully equipped with ovens, gas cooktops, fryers, dish-washing machines and refrigeration.
Whole Foods was praised for the upkeep of its
kitchen equipment. Without regular cleaning, grease
traps and hood vents will run inefficiently. The Hilton
team was also impressed with sink faucets that use
knee pedals for operation. “It’s a great way to engage
employees with water usage here in California. We definitely need to take that back,” says Gaines.
The Hilton team flagged a gap of several inches
between a refrigerator door and its frame. They noted
that the local utility offers rebates for seals on the gaskets for walk-in or reach-in coolers that could result in a
nearly free upgrade for Whole Foods.
Moving on to the refrigeration racks and control
system, Whole Foods demonstrated that it uses an
interface that shows which units are on, off, in defrost
mode or have a malfunction alert. Mork wondered
how performance is monitored if someone isn’t physically present at the computer station. The data would
be more useful if automatic notifications are sent to
facility personnel on mobile devices. Gaines also questioned whether the equipment was continuously commissioned. “They have the right equipment in there, but
is it running as well as it should be?” Mork asks.
Mork also noticed an opportunity with self-serving
stations like salad bars. These refrigerated units are
powered by compressors and draw power for lights.
Rather than leave them on continuously, Whole Foods
could put food below when it’s not needed and turn off
the top of the case.
The store could also add plastic curtains or glass
panels to chilled shelves that hold fruits and vegetables, points out Gaines. Customers will still be able
to easily see and reach the items but cold air won’t be
Out on the store floor, Hilton
complimented Whole Foods on
its use of LEDs for freezer cases
and shelf displays. “We recognize that their display cases are
their jewelry box for selling to
the customers and they should
be proud of using state-of-the
art fixtures,” praises Gaines.
It was noted, however, that
some high bays are using CFLs
and not all of the linears might
be using the latest T8 generation. Max Verstraete, Hilton
VP of Sustainability and ADA
Compliance, also observed
that the light fixtures closest
to the store’s glass front were
on despite it being a sunny
day. With daylight harvesting,
the store could shut off several
rows of lighting without affecting cashiers and customers.
A big opportunity was discovered on the rooftop as all of
the air conditioning and ventilation is directly exhausted.
Depending on the season, the
exhaust heat could be recaptured for preheating the air, or
the exhaust that’s already conditioned could be directed back
through the supply side, Gaines
notes. The right charcoal filters
can remove grease-laden air to
The building’s cooling tower
drives were also running at
100% even though it was a cold
day. Another simple opportunity to save energy would be
to add VFDs, which are often
a one-year payback, recommends Mork.
THE HILTON TEAM found that Whole Foods
was diligent with keeping equipment
running efficiently and saving water, but
found an opportunity to upgrade the seals
on the kitchen coolers’ gaskets. A rebate
from the local utility would make this
quick fix nearly free for the grocer.