Case study - At Bertucci`s, SiteSage pays for itself in under 1 year

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Courtesy of Powerhouse Dynamics

Challenge: Get energy costs under control
Locations: 3-store Pilot, followed by 10 more locations; planned rollout at all 89 locations
Scope: HVAC control & management, equipment performance monitoring & diagnostics, food safety monitoring
Results: 12% electricity use reduction, 8% gas use reduction, 11 month payback

In 2013, Bertucci’s, a Massachusetts-based operator of 89 Italian restaurants, decided to invest in the SiteSage energy and asset management system to reduce energy costs and ensure guest comfort across the chain. The company chose SiteSage because of the product’s unique capabilities and its successful record of reducing customers’ energy and equipment maintenance expenses. Bertucci’s was particularly interested in:

  • Centralized HVAC monitoring and control
  • Analytics to identify underperforming or faulty equipment and reduce off-hours energy costs
  • Food safety alerts when refrigeration units rise above target temperatures
  • Enterprise level benchmarking of facilities and equipment
  • Analytical tools to reduce off-hours energy costs

SiteSage was installed in 3 pilot locations in the Northeast, including Bertucci’s most efficient location, because if costs could be reduced in that location, then older, less efficient locations would have an even greater potential for savings. Cost reduction opportunities were quickly identified at the 3 test sites. The system highlighted the fact that equipment set points were not always being adhered to, and detected that some seasonal equipment, such as the vestibule heating systems and heated make-up air units, were left on after the cold winter months.

The SiteSage system installed at Bertucci’s is specifically tailored to the needs of this full service restaurant chain. The system includes comprehensive monitoring of HVAC, refrigeration, ventilation and food preparation equipment; HVAC control; diagnosis of HVAC and other equipment; and food safety alerting and reporting.

SiteSage monitors the energy use of each HVAC unit at the breaker panel, as well as monitoring temperatures in supply and return air ducts. Algorithms immediately detect and alert managers to HVAC equipment issues including short-cycling compressors or non-functioning economizers. Thermostats are remotely controlled through the online interface and mobile app. This allows managers both insight and control over HVAC equipment across all installed locations.

The system also monitors the temperatures of refrigeration and freezer units to make sure food is stored at proper temperatures. Alerts are generated when temperatures approach or exceed food safety limits in order for corrective action to be taken before product quality is compromised. Alerts can also identify refrigeration equipment in need of maintenance, avoiding costly equipment failure.

Store and regional managers receive a weekly email report that highlights off-hours energy consumption and ranks stores by the savings they’ve achieved. The report identifies the most effective options for minimizing energy consumption when no one is in the store, and helps each location protect its profits.

Results

Issues found at the Bertucci’s pilot sites included multiple refrigerators and freezers that were over-cycling, electric heating units continuously running regardless of outside air temperature, and the overuse of the heated make-up air units. Based on several months’ data, Powerhouse Dynamics tallied Bertucci’s potential energy savings from improved HVAC control, reduced off hours energy use, and enhanced asset management, and projected a potential payback of just under a year on average across the locations. Based on this data, Bertucci’s decided to expand the program to include 10 additional restaurants.

And now the full results are in. Based on 11 months of data through June 2014, the original pilot sites saw decreases of over 12% in electricity costs and over 9% in gas expenditures compared to 6 control locations that did not have the system. Electricity savings are likely to be even higher during the summer months. The most efficient location achieved an 8% reduction in electricity costs and a 9% reduction in gas expenditures, proving SiteSage able to reduce energy costs even in highly efficient buildings. These results were even better than the projected 12 month payback for the system based on energy savings alone – additional savings resulted from improved equipment maintenance due to enhanced intelligence.

Next Steps

Based on documented results to date, the total savings for a rollout across the entire restaurant group is projected to be at least $600,000 per year. Bertucci’s is now working with Powerhouse Dynamics to plan the broader product deployment.

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