Every little helps

Approximately one third of the UK’s total energy consumption is used for heating or producing hot water. Retailers are making moves to improve efficiency – MBS Focus looks at the latest initiatives.

Approximately one third of the UK’s total energy consumption is used for heating or producing hot water, claims the Carbon Trust. So retailers are busy focusing on the all-important area of commercial boiler plant when it comes to their carbon reduction strategies.

Heating energy consumption reductions of 10% or more are easily achievable through maintenance and low cost improvements. Improved controls strategies, repairing degraded boiler insulation, the installation of flue dampers and variable speed drives are just a few examples where energy savings can be made to existing equipment.

While today’s boilers are very highly energy efficient, there is a need to improve efficiencies still further to deliver affordable heating systems that perform well at all operating conditions. Unfortunately, the maximum efficiencies achieved by condensing boilers under laboratory conditions at low temperatures (30-50°C) and half load are rarely achieved in real conditions. More typically, boilers are run at high loads and high temperatures and waste around 20% of the energy input through the flue.

Remeha Commercial has sought to address this with its “super condensing” Quinta Eco Plus, a system that achieves maximum condensing at all times by use of a passive flue-gas heat-recovery device. Quinta Eco Plus is claimed to offer a new level of attainable efficiency of 97% GVC at 82/71°C flow and return temperatures.

Waitrose has just opened its first biomass-powered energy centre at a store in East Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Retailers are looking to harness renewable technologies in conjunction with the latest high-efficiency boilers. For example, Sainsbury's has recently installed its 26th biomass boiler in its new Ely store and plans to double the number of these in stores by the end of 2012. Five Geo-Exchange ground source heat pumps have also been installed since the retailer’s first successful trial at its Crayford store in 2010, with plans to triple these by the end of the year.

Sainsbury's investment in onsite renewable energy technologies is part of its corporate target to reduce its operational carbon emissions by 30% absolute and 65% relative by 2020 compared with 2005. This is part of a broader target of an absolute carbon reduction of 50% by 2030.

Four stores using solar-thermal hot water are currently being trialled with a view to further rollout, while air-source heat pumps have been installed as standard specification since 1998 and are in every store to provide heating/cooling for colleague areas.

Sainsbury’s is not alone of course. Waitrose has just opened its first biomass-powered energy centre at a store in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, with a second at its Bracknell store due to come on stream at the end of May. The John Lewis Partnership, which owns the John Lewis and Waitrose brands, aims to deliver a 15% absolute reduction in operational carbon dioxide emissions by 2020/21 from a 2010/11 baseline (see Round Table, pages 15-17).

Waitrose achieved the first ever BREEAM Outstanding rating for a retail store in use, and both the East Cowes and Bracknell outlets are on track to achieve the same standard.

Morrisons is also targeting carbon emissions from heating plant as part of its carbon-reduction plan that will see the retailer reduce its total operational footprint by 30% by 2020 (from a 2005 baseline). Its concept store in Peterborough Stanground is due for completion this year and will trial new technologies including an air-source heat pump, a refrigeration system using natural refrigerants, solar panels and full-LED lighting.

Elsewhere heating energy savings are being made by introducing ventilation control. By balancing the amount of air being brought into stores with the amount of CO2 produced by its occupants, it is estimated Morrisons will save 12 200 tonnes of CO2e on electricity alone, with additional savings made on the gas used to heat the incoming air.

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