Kansas City contractor overhauls Bass Pro Shop energy center

Bass Pro Shops set a goal to improve its energy efficiency and hired P1 Group to achieve this. Now BPS is saving money – and the earth. 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Bass Pro Shops, America’s leading outdoor retailer, recently made a decision to evaluate the energy center at its corporate headquarters. The company wondered if it could improve the efficiency of its1960’s-era plant, originally designed to house electronics production for former tenant Zenith.

To deliver the energy-saving solutions the company was looking for, Bass Pro Shops commissioned P1 Group, experts in the electrical, mechanical and building services industry, to conduct a study on just how inefficient the old plant was to its operations. P1 had already been effective in helping Bass Pro Shops renovate the chiller plant at its Springfield Outdoor World retail site.

The result of the partnership was a massive, physical plant overhaul, increasing the facility’s efficiency, providing big savings and potentially qualifying the retailer for an accelerated depreciation deduction for the cost of the new equipment, as allowed by the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

According to Bass Pro Shops’ Director of Facilities, Dan Hoy, the company’s multi-million dollar plant expenditure is expected to provide a huge return on its investment – both directly and indirectly.

“In its day, both the facility and equipment were efficient and made to last a lifetime,” Hoy said. “However, it was high time we asked ourselves if we could improve efficiency and reduce expenditures with today’s technological gains.”

Specifically, Bass Pro Shops and P1 overhauled the plant’s chillers, cooling towers, boilers and pumping plant.

According to Hoy, the plant’s former tenant used the facility differently than Bass Pro Shops, which affected Bass Pro Shops’ heating and cooling needs. For example, Zenith needed to air condition 900,000 square feet of the 40-acre building, while Bass Pro Shops needed to cool 350,000 square feet.

Likewise, an outdated incinerator required three staff people to share in around-the-clock duties of stoking it with old wooden pallets and other wood byproducts to generate enough steam energy to power the plant’s absorption chillers.

“This change was as much about right-sizing the equipment for our needs as it was replacing antiquated equipment,” Hoy said.

Guided by P1 Group’s study, P1 designed and installed an energy-efficient hybrid heating and cooling system. The new system leveraged modern technology and supplies, while automating the process. Additionally, it operates off both high-efficiency and standard-efficiency equipment. The automation alone, Hoy said, eliminated the inconsistencies that occur through manual operation. For example, he says, dramatic temperature swings resulted from each of the three shifts assigned to operate the incinerator. Today, the consistency of automation has helped to reduce monthly utility costs.

“Bass Pro Shops took a good, hard look at its facility operations and evaluated whether it was safe, reliable and efficient,” P1 Group’s Rusty Roderick said. “It was a smart business move and it has paid off.”

In fact, since making the change in mid-2008, Hoy said Bass Pro Shops has benefited from as much as $64,000 utility savings in a single month. To date, the average monthly utility savings is about $40,000.

As a side benefit, the change has reduced Bass Pro Shops’ carbon footprint as well. While Bass Pro Shops has long been known for its support of conservation efforts, the reality of having an eco-friendly system means the company is producing fewer CO2 emissions, and will have to devote less time to related EPA reporting.

Both Hoy and Roderick said the physical plant changes Bass Pro Shops has made to date were seamless, and has prompted the two to explore other areas to improve plant efficiency and reduce costs within its corporate headquarters.

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