Americold is committed to investing in projects that minimize our impact and our customers’ impact on the environment. From reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency to investing in renewable energy and diverting waste from landfills, our strategy has one simple goal: to ensure a better world for future generations.
With over 240 facilities in 12 countries, Americold leverages a number of sustainability benchmarking programs to measure progress and identify opportunities for improvement. For our North America locations, we pursue ENERGY STAR certifications to strategically grow our green building portfolio. We started our journey to achieve these certifications in 2021. At the end of 2022, 18 Americold facilities and a total of 23 of our buildings had earned certification.
What is ENERGY STAR?
Administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program that empowers businesses, organizations, utilities, and government to prioritize energy efficiency in their strategies and operations. The program sets forth energy efficiency specifications for five key areas (products, existing homes, new homes, commercial buildings, industrial plants). Those that meet these strict standards can display the well-recognized ENERGY STAR logo. Because energy efficiency requires constant work, certification is renewed annually.
Americold pursues certification in the warehouses category (under commercial buildings). First, Americold submits actual measured data on a building’s energy consumption. This data is extensive such as raw fuel required to operate property. Then, for each building, ENERGY STAR identifies the activities that are significant drivers of energy use. They perform a statistical analysis of the peer building population that produces an equation that predicts the energy use of the property. The energy use prediction for the building is then compared to its actual energy use (using the data provided by Americold). ENERGY STAR then assigns a score between 1 and 100 that represents, “how the building’s energy consumption measures up against similar buildings nationwide.” ENERGY STAR certification requires a score of 75 or higher.
To ensure fair comparisons, ENERGY STAR accounts for climate, weather, and business activities at the property. Additionally, sites are required to record and report temperature, humidity, CO2, and lighting levels in ambient rooms where employees frequently visit. Efficient operations and healthy environments for associates are a must for ENERGY STAR sites.
Premier Membership in Certification Nation
Americold is designated as a 2022 Premier Member of ENERGY STAR’s Certification Nation which requires a minimum of 15 or more certified buildings.
Every certified commercial building or industrial plant is independently verified to operate more efficiently than 75% of similar properties nationwide. ENERGY STAR certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than typical buildings. That’s important, since commercial buildings and industrial plants are responsible for nearly half of the nation’s energy use and nearly half of its greenhouse gas emissions! ENERGY STAR certification not only validates buildings to use less energy and cause fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but also validates them to be less expensive to operate than their peers—all without sacrifices in performance or comfort.
A Well-Rounded Strategy
As a global, industry-leading company, Americold’s approach to energy excellence is multifaceted. On a small scale but with big impact, we pursue capital investment projects like rainwater harvesting systems and fuel cells for clean electric power. These initiatives are typically multi-year “smart technology” investments that deliver major improvements in energy efficiency. The downside: they are expensive and usually only serve a single site.
To impact on a larger scale, Americold embraces a more grassroots approach; that is, helping sites identify no- and low-cost opportunities to boost energy efficiency. Things like installing LED lights, adding Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) ensuring doors to temperature-controlled areas are completely closed unless in use, and turning off lights when rooms are empty. These initiatives are frequently born out of our Energy Waste Walks, led by Americold’s trained energy champions who literally walk the warehouse floor to identify energy efficiency opportunities and action items.
Case in Point: Watsonville, California
A relatively new initiative, Americold is working to compile building-specific data to pursue ENERGY STAR certification for all our North America locations. As previously stated, 23 Americold buildings achieved certification in 2022, including our temperature-controlled facility in Watsonville, California, which scored a perfect 100.
Watsonville has had a long-standing commitment to energy efficiency with both short- and long-term investments that garner the full support of facility leadership and staff. Leading the charge in Watsonville is Lead Maintenance Technician Luis Barragan, a long-time Americold associate who sees the value of a comprehensive building-level energy efficiency strategy.
Luis has been involved in the site’s recent larger-scale investments, which have included condenser upgrades and the installation of variable frequency drives (VFDs) to control the speed and torque of a refrigeration system’s motor. VFDs are the most effective method to prolong motor life and significantly reduce energy use. Additionally, in 2021, Watsonville flipped the switch on a 1.23-acre (53,836 sq. ft) 466 kWp solar installation that enables annual avoidance of 2,776 pounds of CO2 emissions. The energy generated from the Watsonville solar project is the equivalent to driving 3,151 miles on pure sunshine!
While these big projects yield big savings, so too do Watsonville’s smaller-scale initiatives.
“We’ve worked hard to create a culture of accountability here in Watsonville where associates connect with our vision for energy efficiency, understand their ability to impact, and engage in energy-conscious behaviors,” said Luis. “We prioritize training and promote teamwork.”
For more information on Americold’s energy-focused projects and initiatives, please see our 2022 Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report.
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