Just like their HVAC counter-“parts,” supermarket refrigeration systems need commissioning and recommissioning to maintain peak performance and make the most of today’s energy-efficient refrigeration systems.

Commissioning for maximum performance was one of the topics for discussion during the 2013 ContractingBusiness.com Refrigeration Roundtable, held during Comfortech 2013 in Philadelphia. Contractor and supermarket manager panelists were asked to share their opinions on store commissioning, how often they commission, and some word about results. Paul Burd, manager of refrigeration and store service for Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets, said commissioning and recommissioning is a regular event at Weis stores.

Brad Morris, Giant Eagle; Paul Burd, Weis Markets; Steve Hagen, Sprouts Farmers Market; Harrison Horning, Hannaford Bros.“We commission new stores within two weeks of opening. We see a payback in about a year and a half, so it’s a good payback,” Burd said. “The key to commissioning is keeping it in that condition. We lock the controllers once we have the stores set up where we want them to be. It sometimes upsets the technicians, because it’s easy for them to go in and raise or lower a set point by 2 pounds. But that’s energy. The key is to keep the system in that condition and not let things get changed.”

Burd also commissions outside air dampers.

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“When we do an air balancing, we make sure we mark the dampers’ position during commissioning, because a technician, when he’s out there in the middle of the night and feels the store is warm or humid, blames it on outside air. So he cranks the outside air dampers and walks away from it. Yes, the building cools back down, but we make sure we have that mark to go back to, and keep things fine-tuned. We’ll probably go back every three to five years to perform recommissioning on a store.”

Burd shared that Weis Markets brings in a third-party individual to monitor utility bills.

“We meter everything in our stores: compressors, condensers, circuit loads, HVAC, everything,” he said. “He drills down on an individual store, and when he notices excessive energy usage, goes into the system to see if things are in override or not running, whatever it may be.”