Energy Efficiency in Industrial Cold Storage: Strategies for Sustainable Operations

Jun 29, 2023

Controlled Environment Agriculture

Industrial cold storage facilities play a crucial role in preserving the freshness and quality of perishable products. With over 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year and over half of that due to post-harvest food loss, there is a critical need to improve cold supply chains to boost the efficiency of food production. However, these facilities consume significant amounts of energy, contributing to their historically-high environmental impact and operational costs.

These costs often make cold storage facilities prohibitively expensive in certain areas, especially in rural sectors where they are needed the most. By making these facilities more energy efficient, businesses can not only reduce their carbon footprint but also achieve cost savings and promote sustainable practices. Here, we will explore effective strategies and practical tips for enhancing energy efficiency in industrial cold storage operations.

If you’re interested in building sustainable, cutting-edge cold storage facilities to boost your commercial or industrial cold storage chains, MJM Install offers efficiently-built, custom cold storage designs. Whether you’re interested in building a new storage facility to ease the transition into a new market or are simply looking to scale your current cold storage chain, the team at MJM is here to help. With nationwide build crews and more than 10 years of industry experience, we’re ready to bring your company’s vision to life.

Energy-Efficient Insulation

Proper insulation is essential for minimizing heat transfer and maintaining desired temperature levels in cold storage rooms. The heat from the outside often leaks into buildings with poor insulation, causing your refrigeration systems to work twice as hard for the same outcome. The biggest sources of heat loss are exterior doors, loading docks, and air infiltration through open doors, where outside air infiltration can leak in.

The best way to cut down on heat loss is by designing a system that minimizes it from the start. Using high-quality insulation materials like polyurethane foam or fiberglass offers superior thermal resistance. Likewise, subfloor insulation is an often overlooked area that aims to prevent heat loss through dispersal into the ground. Additionally, Thermal windows, dock-seal systems, and strip curtains can cut down on heat loss while high-speed doors can minimize air infiltration from the outside.

All of these options are viable avenues for cutting down heat loss and may be installed later. However, the best results are always seen when considering these options from the start and implementing them into your design. By investing in energy-efficient insulation and design, businesses can significantly reduce energy consumption and optimize temperature control for their entire facility.

LED Lighting and Motion Sensors

Traditional lighting systems consume a substantial amount of energy. Switching to energy-efficient LED lights can significantly reduce electricity usage while cutting down on needless heat that the refrigeration systems will have to remove. Additionally, incorporating systems such as motion sensors that automatically activate lights when the area is occupied and turn them off when not in use can be a great addition to further enhance energy savings.

High-Efficiency Refrigeration Systems

Over 50 percent of power consumption in cold storage comes from refrigeration. Advancements in refrigeration technology have led to the development of high-efficiency systems. Energy-efficient compressors, which consume less power while providing optimal cooling capacity are a great way to save on energy and cost while keeping your products refrigerated.

While you want things cool, not everything needs to be as cold as it can be. Variable speed drives and advanced control systems can help regulate this energy usage based on demand, allowing you to optimize the temperature of the refrigeration while preventing energy waste.

Heat Recovery Systems

In many industrial cold storage facilities, a considerable amount of waste heat is generated by refrigeration systems. Implementing heat recovery systems allows businesses to repurpose this waste heat for tasks like water heating or providing warmth to other areas within the facility. By harnessing and utilizing this excess heat, energy demand in these other areas can be reduced, promoting sustainability.

Smart Temperature Control

Integrating smart temperature control systems with sensors and automation technology helps maintain precise temperature levels in different zones of the cold storage facility. Smart temperature control can even be useful in areas of the facility that do not need to be controlled, such as employee breaks rooms, where energy does not need to be spent during non-operational hours. These systems can adjust cooling requirements based on real-time conditions, optimize energy usage, and minimize unnecessary cooling cycles, leading to significant energy savings.

Government Incentives and Certifications

Businesses investing in energy-efficient cold storage solutions may be eligible for government programs, incentives, and certifications. These initiatives not only provide financial benefits but also demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and responsible resource management. However, it should be noted that these subsidies will vary widely depending on the location and the policies of where the cold storage facility is being constructed. That being said, there are some tax deductions for commercial buildings in the US that may be taken when improving the energy efficiency of a building.

Regular Maintenance and Equipment Optimization

Regular maintenance of refrigeration equipment is essential for ensuring optimal performance and energy efficiency. Routine tasks such as cleaning coils, inspecting seals, and calibrating thermostats help keep the equipment operating at peak efficiency. Note that while preventive maintenance saves energy and money in the long run, reactive maintenance saves neither as faulty equipment can leak heat potentially ruining product and costing more in the long run. By prioritizing preventive maintenance, businesses can avoid energy waste caused by faulty, inefficient equipment or improper seals.

Employee Training and Awareness

Creating a culture of energy efficiency starts with educating and training employees on energy-saving practices. Things as simple as minimizing the time doors stay open can contribute greatly to a facility’s energy efficiency. By raising awareness about energy conservation and involving employees in energy management initiatives, businesses can foster a sense of responsibility and promote sustainable practices throughout the organization.

Energy Efficiency For A Sustainable, Profitable Cold Storage Facility

Enhancing energy efficiency in industrial cold storage is both environmentally and economically beneficial. Refrigerated systems are among the most power-hungry systems in the industry and reducing the costs associated with that power can lead to massive savings, more than any other storage solutions. By embracing energy efficiency in industrial cold storage operations, businesses can enhance their environmental stewardship, reduce their carbon footprint, and create a positive impact on both their bottom line and the planet.

MJM Install is more than capable of helping you design a more energy-efficient cold storage facility to fit your unique needs. We design all of our facilities with sustainability in mind and our use of insulated metal panels ensures that all of our facilities are constructed with the best, most energy-efficient materials. Together, we can pave the way for a more sustainable future in the industrial cold storage industry. Contact us today to start your cold storage construction design.

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