Restaurant Supply Company Bakes Energy Efficiency into New Facility

May 20, 2016 By Carl Weinschenk

brukett1Jameel Burkett, the President and CEO of Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies, had a lot on his plate – no pun intended – when the company decided to move from its existing structure in Toledo to a new location in Perrysville, OH. The deal for the new building, which is about seven miles away, was finalized on September 30 of last year. The company moved in on April 1.

The company, which was founded in 1977, is the biggest supplier of restaurant equipment in the northwest Ohio and southwest Michigan region. It is the 58th biggest company of its type in the country. It is divided into three areas of interest, all of which will operate out of the new facility: An online business, a showroom and a development team.

A lot was done in a comparatively short period of time. Energy efficiency considerations were important – but so were many other things. The company did not exactly outgrow its old building. Indeed, it is downsizing: The new facility is half the size of the old one. The company bought what Burkett describes as a “shell” – an open 95,000 square-foot structure with essentially nothing in it. That space was reconfigured into four basic parts: About two-thirds — 63,000 square feet — was made into a distribution center. The remainder houses a showroom (11,000 square feet), a service department (10,000 square feet) and offices (11,000 square feet).

The new building, Burkett said, starts off at a far more energy efficient point: In addition to the reduced space that has to be heated and cooled, the cavernous facility in Toledo was built in the 1800s and offered insulation that, in Burkett words, “was next to nothing.”

Thus, tburkett2he company started ahead of the game simply by moving to a new facility. Building on that, Burkett – working with Rudolph Libbe Inc., a Walbridge, OH, general contractor – tried to build as much efficiency into the new HVAC and lighting systems as possible. The two systems cost about $200,000, Burkett said.

On the lighting side, the company drove efficiency by replacing the existing 400 watt high bays with between 100 and 150 56 watt LEDs. The change in lighting, Burkett said, will cut the amount of electricity used by 80 percent. The payback period, he said, is expected to be less than two years.

On the HVAC side, Burkett said, the company bypassed more recent innovations such as combined heat and power (CHP) systems. The payback period of the new HVAC system – a 25-ton gas-fed, roof-mount unit from Trane — wasn’t discussed, Burkett said. “We went old school,” he said. “There is no cutting edge technology. We really went for modern efficiency without all the bells and whistles.”

The grand opening is past and the company is moving forward in its new facility. Burkett said that correction he would make if he had it to do over again would be to pay attention to energy efficiency issues earlier in the process.

He said that there was no long-term damage done by the delay. However, he said that the process would have been smoother and more efficient if the energy efficiency topics were tackled during the first days of the undertaking. “Early on in project and budget planning, energy has to be a topic that is addressed,” he said. “We made a mistake in that we didn’t address it early on.”

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