Food Bank Saves Big Bucks, Retrofits Facilities with Building Controls System

The St. Louis Area Foodbank runs one of the largest nonprofit food distribution centers in the region, sending out more than 116,000 pounds of food and personal care items daily to those in need. Recently the organization installed a new building controls system that allows for remote monitoring of energy needs in its facilities.

Last fall the food bank worked with its HVAC provider in St. Louis, Midwest Mechanical Services and Solutions as well as Controlco, Inc. to add an early version of Johnson Controls’ new Verasys plug-and-play controls system. Verasys integrates heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment and controls. The new system works with the food bank’s existing building automation system, called Facility Explorer, Johnson Controls described in a recent announcement.

The systems from Johnson Controls allow the St. Louis Area Foodbank to remotely monitor its dry goods storage as well as its refrigeration and freezer warehouses. When workers are away, Verasys puts the HVAC systems into unoccupied mode, which has increased energy savings by 11%, according to Johnson Controls. In January, the company introduced Verasys to customers in the light commercial market. In the future, the St. Louis Area Foodbank plans to put Verasys in additional areas inside their distribution center.

Johnson Controls hopes the plug-and-play aspect of Verasys will set it apart from competitors’ systems. Honeywell has simplified the setup, scheduling, and control for its building management system in recent years. Ingersoll Rand also provides intelligent building systems that help maintain optimal conditions. The Trane Tracer SC building automation system has been installed in facilities like the Alchemist Brewery’s facility in Stowe, Vermont.

Integrated facility control systems are gaining traction with food retailers as a way to improve energy efficiency and provide owners and managers with a clearer picture of their energy use.

The Southface Energy Institute reported in May that after seven months, the St. Louis Area Foodbank’s upgrades, which included the new building automation system, had saved $10,470, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5%, and produced 8.7% energy savings for the 100,000-square-foot site.

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