The paper describes work to enable improved energy performance of existing and new retail stores belonging to a national chain and thereby also identify measures and tools that would improve the performance of ‘big box' stores generally. A detailed energy simulation model of a standard store design was developed and used to:
- demonstrate the benefits of benchmarking the energy performance of retail stores of relatively standard design using baselines derived from simulation,
- identify cost-effective improvements in the efficiency of components to be incorporated in the next design cycle,
- use simulation to identify potential control strategy improvements that could be adopted in all stores, improving operational efficiency.
The core enabling task of the project was to develop an energy model of the current standard design using the EnergyPlus simulation program. For the purpose of verification of the model against actual utility bills, the model was reconfigured to represent twelve existing stores (seven relatively new stores and five older stores) in different US climates and simulations were performed using weather data obtained from the National Weather Service. The results of this exercise, which showed generally good agreement between predicted and measured total energy use, suggest that dynamic benchmarking based on energy simulation would be an effective tool for identifying operational problems that affect whole building energy use. The models of the seven newer stores were then configured with manufacturers' performance data for the equipment specified in the current design and used to assess the energy and cost benefits of increasing the efficiency of selected HVAC, lighting and envelope components. The greatest potential for cost-effective energy savings appears to be a substantial increase in the efficiency of the blowers in the roof top units and improvements in the efficiency of the lighting. The energy benefits of economizers on the roof-top units were analyzed and found to be very sensitive to the operation of the exhaust fans used to control building pressurization.