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RCEA energy audit reviews/Wildberries Marketplace
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Wildberries Marketplace is a popular grocery store in Arcata, California, and has been operational for over fifteen years. In early 2008, the store had a vast majority of its lighting retrofitted with the help of the not-for-profit organization Redwood Coast Energy Authority with new and more efficient CFL bulbs, saving the store energy and money.
Wildberries Marketplace offers a mixture of both organic and conventional foods, making it a crossover grocery store. Until its creation in 1994, the current lot was home to a locally owned independent market, named Larry's. The founder and current president, Phil Ricord, bought out Larry's for $175,000 and demolished most of the supermarket, and started his own independent grocery store: Wildberries Marketplace.
The mission of Wildberries Marketplace is to satisfy their customers' demands by offering a broad choice of quality products, superior service and exceptional ambiance, while contributing to the community they serve and providing enhanced job satisfaction for their workforce. Wildberries strives to give customers the best overall grocery shopping experience possible, by offering a wide array of both locally grown organic foods, as well as corporate products like Coca-Cola and Post Cereals that customers appreciate. By giving customers choices like these, Wildberries has been profitable and successful for fourteen out of the fifteen years its been around.
In 1956, before Larry's had even been thought of, a Safeway occupied the current lot. Since that time, the entire building has been completely remodeled at least twice. It now has computers instead typewriters, hi-tech lighting in lieu of lamps, but interestingly enough, the original compressors from 1956 used for refrigeration are still being used! They have been repaired and upgraded several times since then, but the core units are still the same. The refrigeration system is the only thing in the store that uses more energy than the lighting system, making it a potential retrofitting project for the future. However, early last year the market was presented with an opportunity to completely overhaul its lighting system, and they gladly accepted.
Supermarkets require a lot more lighting than most people realize. Not only do the isles and cashiers have to be lit well enough for people to read tiny labels at any angle, but the warehouse and management sections of the market are almost as big as the shopping section. Also, during the night, the exterior of the store must be visible. Though Wildberries is operational only until midnight, there are employees present twenty-four hours a day. Needless to say, a lot of energy goes towards lighting the market.
Before the RCEA helped retrofit the lighting, Wildberries was using incandescent light bulbs and less efficient fluorescent tubing. In early 2008, nearly all of the lights in the store were replaced with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps. In many cases, not only the bulbs had to be replaced, but the fixtures and ballasts had to be changed as well. RCEA helped Wilberries contract Trinidad Electric to retrofit a vast majority of the store, including all of the offices, external flood lighting, shopping section, warehouse, garage, and even the inside of the refrigerators and freezers. Also included in the retrofit were the addition of several motion sensors. Since there are very few employees working after store hours, it would not be very efficient to keep the lights on all the time. The use of motion sensors ensures that the lights are only on when needed, instead of all the time.
When the RCEA initially performed an energy audit for Wildberries, they estimated that the store would save approximately 27,548 kWhr/yr, which would save the company $3,579.10 a year. However, it was unknown whether this estimate was accurate.
By looking at the graph on the right, you can see an immediate decline in energy usage by the store. Though the usage eventually went up, it remained lower than the usage from the same month of the previous year. After comparing the 2007 usage rates before the retrofits with the 2008 rates after the new lighting was installed, it is revealed that Wildberries saved about 15360 KWHr/year. They also ended up saving $3804.57 / year by installing the new CFLs. The energy Wildberries saved meant that they reduced their Carbon Dioxide emissions were reduced by about 8,325 lbs / year. To put that number in perspective, that weighs about as much as four small cars, more than half of a large elephant, or one twenty-sixth of a fully grown blue whale!
Clearly, these numbers with the RCEA projections, as their audit estimated more energy savings, but less financial incentive. This is because at the same time the lighting fixtures were installed, Wildberries also installed a new heating system. Previously, the store had used the heat produced from the compressors to heat the store, but employees and customers demanded more warmth. Thus, while the electricians were installing the new lighting fixtures, they also installed a new heating system. The system is responsible for the inaccuracy in the original audit, but does not mean that the audit was incorrect. It is highly probable that the lighting retrofit saved Wildberries 27,548 kWhr/yr, but the bill only reflected a fraction of those savings because of the new heating system. Also, the price of electricity fluctuated before and after the retrofit, rendering the predictions inaccurate, in Wildberries' favor.
The customers and employees were highly satisfied with the new heating system, but barely even noticed the lighting retrofits.
Phil Ricord was highly pleased with the retrofitting process, and had an overall positive experience with both the RCEA and Trinidad Electric. He stated that he originally planned to install a Photovoltaic system on the roof of Wildberries, it proved to be financially unwise. However, Ricord still plans on installing the system in the near future, and plans to involve RCEA in that project as well.
According to Ricord, if the cost savings that the RCEA implemented were not present, he probably would not have had the motivation necessary to retrofit the lighting. He felt that the project was an excellent idea once presented to him, and quickly made it happen when he realized how energy and cost saving the retrofit would be.