Company Profile

  • Company: Big Box Store
  • Business Type: Retail Chain
  • Solution:  Hardware, software, and energy advisory services
  • Results:  Centralized monitoring and superior data intelligence

Background: Implementing an ambitious sustainability strategy

Recognized as a top retailer, this Minnesota-based national chain has nearly 2000 stores and 50 supply chain facilities across the US. The average retail store is 130,000 square feet, although the company is rolling out smaller format stores in higher-density areas. They offer various products from clothing to health and beauty items to groceries and supplies for the home. They aim to deliver outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experiences. They have an internal ESG strategy, including a commitment to net zero by 2040.

To work toward their sustainability goals, an in-house engineering team has steadily tested and implemented energy-saving strategies in the retailer’s existing and new store designs since the 1990s. These include building envelope, lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, and plug load efficiency measures. The retailer subjects the Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMs) to rigorous economic analyses informed by pilots, and energy simulations to ensure they met the company’s business criteria.

Challenges: Lacking asset benchmarking to make data-driven improvements

To manage the path to net zero, the retailer used utility bill data, engineering estimates, and energy modeling to plan, implement, and validate capital investments in energy-consuming assets and confirm ongoing operational efficiency. There were no clear benchmarks for success. Plus, significant refrigeration equipment was being deployed as part of the retailer’s strategy to bring fresh groceries to every store, but the company did not have a portfolio-wide view of energy-consuming assets to measure the full impact on energy usage. The engineering and commissioning teams determined they needed an enterprise platform that provides asset-level, real-time data to support this deployment.

In 2008, the retailer’s engineering team engaged GridPoint.

Objectives: Implementing a cost-effective, data-rich strategy that could grow into the future. The retailer had a strong strategy and measurement framework but needed a more streamlined and comprehensive energy monitoring platform. They also needed to measure energy usage simultaneously at both the big-picture enterprise and granular asset-specific levels. The energy monitoring goals included:

  • Providing a baseline and validation tool for ongoing capital investments and demand response programs
  • Obtaining data to understand how their sites functioned
  • Gaining portfolio-wide visibility into energy-consuming assets
  •  Developing outage reporting and monitoring
  • Finding a solution with a single login for the entire portfolio view
  • Ensuring accuracy and timeliness of information
  • Deploying a flexible and adaptable platform that could accommodate future investments in grid-interactive assets and energy management strategies
  • Ensuring the strategy was cost-effective so it could be scaled across all stores

Solution: Hardware, software, and energy advisory services

GridPoint worked with the retailer to address each objective and goal. They rolled out asset-level submetering to verify and audit how much energy stores consume, understand real-time energy use at the equipment level, and track efficiency over time. GridPoint’s submetered data enabled this retailer to understand their facilities at a granular level better, guiding their sustainability strategy and making their facilities more efficient, all while rolling out their grocery concepts and pursuing long-term net-zero goals.

The retailer also engaged GridPoint’s Energy Advisory Services team to help keep their facilities running smoothly by validating savings, continually analyzing the data, identifying efficiency opportunities, and correcting performance issues.

Results: Centralized monitoring and superior data intelligence

GridPoint’s platform enables this retailer to see enterprise-wide and asset-level data conveniently to ensure their facilities are running efficiently. The longstanding relationship has highlighted project success in many ways, including:

  • Site Exception Reporting: Submetered data enables this retailer to see trends in energy consumption and identify costly exceptions, for example, the lighting schedule not being followed or malfunctioning refrigeration equipment.
  • Commercial Power Pricing: By understanding drivers of peak energy use in real-time, this retailer can establish more intelligent procurement strategies, negotiate better rates, or quickly alter behavior to avoid peak costs.
  • Demand Response Enablement: GridPoint’s data validates their compliance in demand response programs and determines actual reduction during an event, affecting the incentive received.
  • Power Quality Monitoring: The asset-level data is used to identify voltage imbalances and situations where three-phase motor damage might occur. Having this data means the retailer can better protect their high-value equipment by quickly identifying the issue and preserving integrity.
  • Outage Visibility: Extreme weather or a natural disaster can cause power outages across many sites. This retailer has used GridPoint’s platform on various occasions to monitor sites throughout a storm, identify sites without power, assess the damage, and power backup equipment carefully after the storm passed.
  • Efficiency Project Tracking: When the retailer implements a new efficiency project, they can measure the success of the project through submetered data
  • Electrification Strategy Development: Going fully electric means updating gas appliances or generators, increasing the store’s overall energy load and costs. GridPoint’s data helps the retailer understand where they can add distributed energy resources (DERs) to help offset the load increases and help properly size the equipment.

Key Takeaways:

The retailer amplified its energy management and sustainability leadership, met its strategic, business, and financial objectives, and built a cost-effective foundation for future expansion.

Why GridPoint:
The retailer evaluated many options for collecting and understanding asset-level energy use. Many of the options were site-specific, prohibitively expensive, or did not provide the ability to have a portfolio view. GridPoint provided a cost-effective enterprise solution that laid the foundation for expansion to reach long-term net-zero and sustainability goals.