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Cold storage, cold cash
ICE II designed to rack up energy savings

Winter, 2009 | SDG&E Savings by Design Quarterly Newsletter

The new ICE II cold-storage facility is designed to run on 60% less electricity than standard facilities. This design/build project by Hamann Construction earned almost $230,000 in SDG&E incentives.

Inside the ICE II freezer warehouse are, from left, Gregg and Phoebe Hamann of Hamann Construction, SDG&E's Peggy Crossman, and refrigeration consultant Doug Scott of VaCom Technologies.  Behind them is one of six electric, high-lift Condor cranes that recharge with energy generated by the weight of products being lowered from 50-ft.-high racks. Picture about 436,000 home freezers, each with a capacity of 15 cubic feet, stacked six stories high, and you've got a rough idea of how much pre-packaged frozen food could fill a new facility being opened in March 2009 by Innovative Cold Storage Enterprises, Inc. (ICE). Dubbed "ICE II" because it is the company's second refrigerated warehouse in Otay Mesa, the new mega-freezer is designed for mega-savings: more than $408,000 annually at current electricity prices for savings topping 3.4 million kilowatt-hours, which is 60% better performance than standard cold-storage facilities.

As a result, SDG&E awarded a $150,000 Savings By Design incentive to ICE for the design/build project by Hamann Construction of El Cajon. Given the ongoing electricity savings and the one-time incentive, the simple payback is merely 1.2 years for the extra investment ICE made to upgrade energy performance for the life of the building.

SDG&E also awarded an Emerging Technologies incentive of $79,773 to offset the cost of light-emitting diode (LED) light fixtures that are instantly activated by motion sensors in the ICE II freezer warehouse and dock areas. Typical lights in commercial freezers go on and off more slowly, don't work with motion sensors and emit heat, so they draw more electricity.

Rising to a clear height of 60 ft., the steel-framed ICE II facility integrates a variety of energy-saving features, including an R-42 cool roof, R-39 freezer walls with 9 inches of polystyrene foam sandwiched in steel, high-speed freezer doors that reduce infiltration, and refrigeration components with variable-speed drives and computerized controls. "The new facility can hold four times more product than the old facility, yet it will take half as much energy to operate," says Phoebe Hamann, LEED Accredited Professional, Hamann Construction, who is pursuing LEED Gold certification for the project. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System of the U.S. Green Building Council gauges building performance in terms of energy efficiency, sustainable site development, water savings, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

The exceptional energy performance of ICE II can be traced to several factors, including early consideration of energy-efficiency measures, an integrated, whole-building design approach, and teamwork.

As Hamann recalls, "We gave all of our plans to SDG&E for review. Doug Scott analyzed them and gave us a report on the energy-efficiency measures we originally included and additional ones that SDG&E recommended. We worked closely with Peggy Crossman (of SDG&E), Doug Scott, our refrigeration subcontractor (C&L Refrigeration Corp.) and other subcontractors to incorporate the energy-saving measures we chose to pursue."

"Every potential energy-saving measure was evaluated in terms of what's the cost, what's the savings, what's the incentive and what's the payback - item by item - as investment decisions," notes Doug Scott, president of VaCom Technologies, whose analysis compared the ICE II design in relation to Title 24 and industry standard practice, the base case for SDG&E's incentive calculations. "The Hamanns wanted to figure out the best way to build the building and to get the best life-cycle cost out of the building. They understand integrated design, and how there are tradeoffs for different measures. It was a very informed, hard-nosed, financial decision-making process."

Scott's description of the decision-making process elicited a chuckle and agreement from Hamann: "We run a business. When you run a business, you have to run on economics. We are green builders who work off of economic payback, and what's best for everyone - best for the environment and best for the company."

With a footprint of almost 132,000 sq. ft. and a clear height of 60 ft., the ICE II building accommodates a 114,300-sq.-ft. freezer, 13,200-sq.-ft. dock, 5,000-sq.-ft. office area, and rooftop mechanical "penthouses" rising just past the 72-ft. mark. The many energy-efficiency enhancements contributing to its performance include:
  • A 60-ft. "high-rise" freezer configuration that incurs less heat gain and requires less lighting power and less floor space than a conventional freezer design by minimizing the exterior surface area of the building.
  • Placement of rack along very narrow aisles - 6ft. wide instead of the typical 12 ft. needed for standard forklifts to turn around. The narrow aisles and 50-ft. hight racks maximize product storage space and minimize distances traveled to store and retrieve pallets, though this configuration also required an extra investment in special high-lift Condor cranes to maneuver in such tall, tight quarters.
  • Three high-efficiency, ammonia screw compressors, each providing 88.4 tons of refrigeration. The original refrigerant considered was a synthetic compound that contains chlorine and is being phased out because of damage to the ozone layer. "Ammonia is toxic, but it's much better for the environment, a safe refrigerant, properly done, and it saves money," Scott notes.
  • Variable-speed drives on all components of the refrigeration system with computerized controls to optimize efficiency every hour of the year.
  • Daylighting in all offices.
  • High levels of insulation, including an R-42 cool roof and R-39 freezer walls with 9 inches of polystyrene foam sandwiched between pre-finished 26-gauge steel skin.
  • Tight-fitting dock doors and high-speed freezer doors that reduce infiltration.
The ICE II freezer warehouse is designed to store pre-packaged frozen food items at -10&#degF, stacked in 28,630 pallet positions on racks up to 50 ft. high.  Its 23 aisles are only 6 ft. wide - about half the industry standard - to maximize storage space and minimize distances traveled by forklifts.  Motion sensors instantly activate LED light fixtures in all aisle ways. In addition, the project includes two solar photovoltaic systems jointly developed by SDG&E and an affiliate of ICE. The combined peak power output of SDG&E's system and ICE's system is enough to meet just over 1 megawatt of demand. Together, the two solar energy systems are expected to produce a total of approximately 1.7 million kilowatt-hours per year for ICE II and the community.

When designing your next commercial new construction project, contact your SDG&E account executive or visit

Those who helped shape the exceptionally energy-efficient design of the ICE II facility included: Gregg Hamann, president, finance, Phoebe Hamann, LEED AP, LEED consultant, and Paul Giese, RA, architect and project manager, Hamann Construction, El Cajon; Tom Dosch, PE, refrigeration designer/contractor, C&L Refrigeration Corp., Brea; Bob Sweigart, mechanical designer for office HVAC, Slayton Mechanical Contractors, Inc., Lakeside; Doug Scott, president, VaCom Technologies, La Verne, refrigeration consultant and analyst for SDG&E; and SDG&E Savings By Design program representatives Peggy Crossman, senior account executive, and Bob Nacke, PE, new construction supervisor.

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