H-E-B Opens Store With Hussmann-Designed Propane Refrigeration System

H-E-B logo

H-E-B has opened a new 83,000-s.f. store as part of the redevelopment of the old Austin, Texas, airport site, and the store includes a Hussmann-designed propane refrigeration system. The entire redevelopment project focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency from the retail stores to the family housing units. H-E-B says it is committed to being energy efficient and conserving natural resources; the company says its willingness to try new ideas, trends and technologies is what has enabled it to be successful in the food retail industry.

“It is just the way we operate our business,” says Bill Triplett, VP of planning, design and construction for H-E-B. “Our vision is to move faster, save energy and be sustainable. HC refrigerants have my attention and I want to move H-E-B in a different direction away from CFCs.”

From the beginning of the project, H-E-B had four requirements from the refrigeration design—energy efficiency, simplicity (design and install), sustainability and reliability. According to Charlie Wernette, director of engineering for H-E-B, “Our ultimate goal with this project is a 70 percent energy reduction from all the store systems. We believe that a R290 hydrocarbon (propane) system will achieve approximately 50 percent energy reduction compared to our typical store refrigeration load. Based on the tests and analysis we have conducted to date, we believe that the actual sustainability and energy reductions will far exceed any measurement used today by LEED and GreenChill. In addition, we wanted to find another natural refrigerant alternative as we are not convinced that CO2 is the long term solution for H-E-B.”

“It is very important to H-E-B that our natural refrigerant solution meets our sustainability and lower GWP objectives, but we also want a simple design that is easy to install—similar to your home refrigerator where it is delivered, plugged in and works for 15 to 20 years without having to think about it,” adds Wernette. “We think this system achieves our energy and sustainability objectives. In addition, we believe that because of the design, we may realize other cost-saving benefits, such as collapsed construction cycle time resulting in our ability to get new stores on board more quickly than ever before.”

H-E-B and Hussmann started working together in October 2011 to identify the design criteria and specifications to use propane for a majority of the refrigerated display cases in the store.

“When H-E-B approached Hussmann about wanting to use propane for the Austin Mueller store, we were very excited about working with them in the development, design and installation of this alternate refrigerant source for their store,” says Phil Evans, SVP of engineering for Hussmann. “Keeping in mind H-E-B’s four requirements, we have designed and engineered a propane system that will enable them to achieve their energy reduction goals while maintaining a safe, shopper-friendly environment.”

According to Norm Street, Hussmann’s director of new technology development, Hussmann worked closely with H-E-B and several U.S. government and safety agencies in developing the regulations and approval processes to enable the safe use of propane in a supermarket application. This included optimizing equipment designs based on EPA limitations of 150g per system.

“Hussmann’s unique and innovative methods secured timely design validation, risk assessment and approvals that met or exceeded H-E-B’s expectations,” Street says. “In view of the fact that we were using propane, safety was always our top priority—from the store personnel to the customers in the store, as well as the perishables in the refrigerated display merchandisers.”

“H-E-B wanted to set the benchmark for energy reduction and environmental responsibility in their new stores and we at Hussmann are glad they selected us to work with them to achieve these business goals,” says Tres Brown, SVP of North America sales for Hussmann. “This project has been an opportunity for us to bring together our engineering, innovation and technology expertise to find the right solution for this customer. We value our on-going relationship with H-E-B and have proved that by working together we can create industry-changing products and services.”



About The Author

A former newspaper editor and publisher who has handled digital duties for The Shelby Report since 2011. She once enjoyed leisurely perusing the grocery store aisles but, since having a baby in 2016, is now an enthusiastic click-and-collect shopper.