In the Trenches: Inside the grocery industry with Nick Barhorst
By Erin Fitzgerald
Nick Barhorst is an energy manager at Ecova.
Editor's note: This blog, by Ecova's Erin Fitzgerald, is part of the continuing SBO series In the Trenches.
I recently sat down with Nick Barhorst to learn more about his background and the path that brought him to be an energy manager at Ecova.
Nick is a veteran of the grocery industry. Beginning at age 15, Nick worked for Kroger in a variety of positions, including clerk, store manager and operations. Nick eventually transitioned to a role in the facility engineering department as a project manager, maintenance manager, and then an energy manager. He received an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2009 and a MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2012.
Nick joined Ecova in 2011 and was a natural fit to work with Ecova’s many grocery and convenience store clients. Nick works with Ecova’s clients to help them reduce their energy consumption. He’s an energy problem solver who uses his background in engineering and facilities operations to make recommendations that impact a store’s performance, such has refrigeration issues and lighting.
Nick was quick to reveal that in most supermarkets and convenience stores, 50 percent of electricity consumption is from refrigeration and freezer units. He said that the biggest opportunities in this area are rather quite simple: switch out the lighting in the units with more efficient bulbs. He recommends that stores replace older lighting with LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, a much more efficient bulb that doesn’t burn as hot.
“If you can reduce the heat, you reduce the refrigeration load and ultimately, energy consumption and costs," he said. "Refrigeration systems are a huge energy drain and going after this low hanging fruit can have a significant impact on a store’s energy consumption.”
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