Cold Storage Operators Gear Up For Summer

Maintaining cold warehouses in the hot summer months requires massive amounts of energy. So, what are refrigerated warehouse operators doing to use that energy responsibly?

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In the U.S., the Memorial Day holiday marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It also means Americans will be consuming more seasonal fare like burgers, hot dogs, and of course—ice cream. Likewise, our food production and commercial kitchen customers have been building up their inventory of these items while the robust temperature-controlled storage and distribution supply chain is ready too.

There are more than 1,000 commercial temperature-controlled warehouses across the U.S.  Most are strategically placed close to production and consumption centers and some are customer-dedicated and even attached to production facilities. Americold has a number of customer-attached facilities, including some for ice cream.

Ice cream is a unique product that consumers expect to find in perfect condition. Temperature-controlled supply chain partners have a role in meeting that expectation by maintaining extremely low temperatures, minus 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit and lower, from the moment the ice cream departs from the production facility along the conveyor and into our attached facility, up until it’s delivered to the local retail store.

Maintaining cold warehouses in the hot summer months requires massive amounts of energy. So, what are refrigerated warehouse operators doing to use that energy responsibly?


Maintaining cold chain integrity from A to Z

Supporting the cold chain is a multi-faceted approach. Here are some examples:

Energy efficient operations. Up to 15% of a refrigerated facility’s power consumption can be attributed to lighting vast cold rooms. Replacing typical metal halide bulbs with LED equivalents can result in up to 80% in efficiency gains. Adding motion-sensing technology to activate the lighting only where associates are operating in the facility further enhances energy efficiency.

Dozens of Americold’s facilities have already retrofitted motion-sensing LED lighting systems and the technology is incorporated into all new expansion, modernization and new build plans.

Natural gas fuel cell and solar solutions. Americold’s Salinas, Calif. facility generates more than 600,000kWh per year from a natural gas fuel cell that converts natural gas to clean energy.  This alone reduces our CO2 footprint by over 1 million pounds per year. Meanwhile, our Gloucester, Mass. sites have been retrofitted with roof-mounted solar units that generate up to 500,000kWh of clean energy per year. These pilot programs are helping us evaluate the cost effectiveness of alternative energy options for other facilities.

Real-time metering. The ability to monitor facility-level energy consumption from a desktop application is huge advantage. After implementing energy utilization standards at each of each our sites, indicating exactly how much energy a facility should be using based on a given occupancy level and season, rare out-of-tolerance readings now trigger alerts to local Americold management and our corporate energy management team so that issues can be resolved quickly and we can maintain efficient operations.

SmartWay partnerships. We partner with transportation service providers who are SmartWay participants and use SmartWay guidelines on our own truck fleet too. SmartWay is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that aims to accelerate the availability, adoption and market penetration of advanced fuel efficient technologies and operational practices in the freight supply chain, while helping companies save fuel, lower costs and reduce adverse environmental impacts.

Demand Response programs. Some utility companies operate Demand Response programs in partnership with their commercial customers. During periods of anticipated high demand, a hot summer’s day for example, the utility company predicts increased demand from schools, hospitals, some businesses and residential customers, and looks to some of its commercial customers to reduce power draw. Americold participates in every available Demand Response program offered by utility companies in the U.S., with no adverse effects on facility temperature stability for the short periods of time the load shedding request is in play. This commitment to supporting local utility companies avoids power blackouts during demand spikes and the overall need to generate power.

The result of these efforts and others are impressive. Since 2010, Americold cumulatively saved more than 220,000,000kWh of electricity—that’s enough to power more than 22,000 homes for a year. Convert that to CO2 equivalents and that equates to over 180,000,000 pounds that are not being released into the atmosphere.

Advancements in technology will continually lead to more efficient and effective operations, and Americold is dedicated to appraising and implementing system and process evolutions as often as part of our ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility program.


Energy savings vs. 2010 levels


CO2 Equivalents vs. 2010 levels