Store Remodeling Project at Supermarket Chain Cuts Electricity Bill So Sharply That the Electric Utility Thinks a Meter May Be Broken

Strack & Van Til remodels a store, slashes energy bill 35% two months later

MEDINA, Minn. (September 12, 2016) – Even for engineers with long experience in remodeling supermarkets, the size and speed of the energy savings came as a surprise.

Just two months after they finished a big project, energy use in one store dropped by 35%.

No less surprised was the supermarket’s electric utility provider. An account executive there wrote the retailer’s energy manager to suggest that an electricity meter may not be working properly.

It happened at a Strack & Van Til (SVT) store which is a supermarket chain based in Highland, Indiana. During the remodel of one store in late 2015, the main goal was to improve the customer shopping experience. But SVT executives also expected reductions in energy use, maintenance cost, and carbon emissions.

Balancing tradeoffs

It’s not easy to achieve all the goals in equal measure—especially within the constraints of project budgets.

Some objectives conflict with each other. For example, changes in fixture plans and merchandizing are often needed to improve the shopping experience and increase sales. But such changes may also increase installation cost and energy use.

The trick is to design, install, and calibrate the equipment to achieve all objectives.

Balancing tradeoffs is an everyday challenge for Russ Weber, SVT’s director of construction, and Don Erminger, director of maintenance and energy.

The two worked to maintain an effective balance with help from Singh360, a Minnesota-based energy management firm.

Thorough energy audit

Singh360 provided a detailed energy audit of the existing store, according to Abtar Singh, chief executive officer of the company.

The audit identified areas of opportunity for energy savings, Singh said. It also identified which areas would offer the best payback.

Singh said his company then recommended technologies that would reduce energy consumption within the project’s budget.

Recommended technologies

On Singh’s advice, SVT installed a state-of-the-art energy management system (or EMS) in each refrigeration rack. The EMS provides proper refrigeration controls and offers advanced algorithms such as floating suction and discharge pressure control.

On refrigeration cases, SVT retrofitted the doors on medium-temperature cases and added lights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). On frozen-food cases, they added door heater controls and LEDs inside the cases.

For the store’s HVAC systems, SVT added a control system for the air handling unit on the main sales floor. They also added communicating thermostats for roof-top units and unit heaters. The control systems were programmed for night setback and temperature reset.

SVT added variable-frequency drives on motors in air-handling units. And they fitted electronically commutated motors on all refrigerated cases, walk-in coolers, and freezers.

Finally, Singh360 followed up with retro-commissioning.

Fast, dramatic results

The retro-commissioning occurred in early February of 2016. Within two months, the savings were visible enough to make the utility take note.

The respective stores utility account manager sent Don Erminger this email message in April:

“I was asked to check and confirm if the [store] usage is accurate.

“Your energy and demand has dropped dramatically in the past three months. Have you changed operation or has energy measures made a big difference?

“Just didn’t want a meter issue to cause a billing nightmare. Thanks!”

Sustained performance

Were the first four months of 2016 an anomaly?


The following graph shows average energy usage for 2015 (blue line) versus 2016 year to date (black line). On average, energy use is down by about 200kW, or roughly 35%.

SVT Energy Comparison

The graph appears in software, SVT has licensed from kWh360 (, a sister company of Singh360. The software, called 360-Cloud, tracks normalized energy use across multiple store locations. It also recommends opportunities for savings.


About Singh360 Inc.

Singh360 ( specializes in facility management. The principals have worked with the supermarket industry for 20 years, providing objective counsel that helps operators find and implement the best solutions to energy and maintenance challenges. Services range from building-envelope assessments to complete design of mechanical and electrical systems (including HVAC, lighting and refrigeration systems) for new and existing buildings using mobile and cloud app from kWh360 Inc. ( The company help organizations set priorities for efficiency projects based on sustainability goals, speed of payback, and the return on investment. Singh360 also provides turnkey install of EMS systems, VFD (refrigeration compressors/condenser and HVAC fans), EC Motor retrofits, refrigeration door retrofits, BAC Trillium condenser retrofit, Demand control ventilation for kitchen hoods, LED retrofits, commissioning, recommissioning and test & balance services.


Media Contact:

Abtar Singh,,
Ph. 651-605-1093