Controlling Humidity Pays Off

A Grocery Store Installs a Liquid Desiccant System to Improve Energy Efficiency

Have you ever needed a sweater in a movie theater or in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store? Most of us have. Humidity in buildings is often controlled by over-cooling air to remove the moisture. Then the air is reheated to the desired temperature. Over-cooling and reheating results in excessive energy use, and running air-conditioning systems longer and harder leads to increased maintenance and reduces the life expectancy of the equipment. All of these issues increase costs for the building operator and reduce bottom-line profits. Fortunately, there is better technology available in liquid desiccant systems. These systems offer a sustainable solution for removing humidity from the air, which helps facilities become more energy efficient while maintaining comfort for employees and customers.

An Example

Sandy Vary, co-owner of Bel Garden Bi Rite Supermarket, Baltimore, has annual sales exceeding $15 million in her 27,000-square-foot facility. The store, which has been family-run for close to 50 years, experiences a high volume of traffic causing the doors to the store to be almost continuously open. With each door opening, external humidity is introduced into the supermarket.

In addition to making the store less comfortable, humidity had a negative impact on the stores’ products. It reduced the shelf life of fresh produce, other fresh-food items, baked goods and boxed items. Humidity also caused the freezer cases’ doors to fog up when opened, reducing product visibility to the customer and causing the anti-sweat heaters to run more often.

Roland Altenburg, Bel Garden Bi Rite Supermarket’s meat department manager, explains: “We had a lot of humidity in the store. We used to have water dripping off the cases and the packages. The condensation would cause green spots on some of the pieces of meat at times. It wouldn’t allow the case life we should have.”

Vary had been cooling her store with two 20-ton rooftop air-conditioning systems. The units were set at 72 F to alleviate the temperature and humidity issues. They were running constantly. Vary knew the systems were old, costly and inefficient. She also knew that for every thermostat set point she could save approximately $1,000 in energy costs.

About the Author

Peggy J. Elkind
Peggy J. Elkind, MBA, is vice president of business development for Intelligent Power and Air Solutions Inc. She works with clients to achieve sustainability goals and increase productivity through holistic building solutions that achieve reduced energy consumption and improved air quality.

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