Gordon Food Service – Clay Campus Biggest Loser in Mixed Use Category


Gordon Food Service is North America’s largest privately held and family-managed broadline foodservice distributor. The company operates in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwestern United States, and coast-to-coast in Canada. There are currently 170 Gordon Food Service Store locations.

Gordon Food Service placed second in the “mixed-use” category of the 2016 Michigan Battle of the Buildings, with a 5.29 percent reduction in energy usage at its Clay Campus. The complex’s four buildings total 584,128 square feet and include the Distribution Center on Clay, the Distribution Center on 50th Street, the Grand Rapids Fleet Maintenance Garage and the Gordon Food Service Store on Clay, all very diverse operations served by one utility meter.

“Refrigeration is a very large portion of the energy load in all of our distribution centers,” says National Engineering Manager Mark Grimes. “Understanding operational needs and equipment deficiencies in refrigeration systems helps us make significant strides toward reductions in energy use.”

Gordon Food Service performs audits annually at all 16 of its U.S. distribution centers. The audits generate a list of potential projects, which are then prioritized. “In general, we look for a minimum three-year return on investment, but we take a long view on energy conservation measures and are willing to make an investment for long term savings,” Grimes says.

In addition to the energy audits and refrigeration work, other projects that led the company to its Battle of the Buildings win included a lighting upgrade, adding energy-efficient motors to its conveyor system, and conducting leak detection studies to identify sources of compressed air leaks, which place increased demand on air compressors. Grimes admits that lighting upgrades are his favorite project because the return on investment calculations are easy and the payback is typically quick when compared to more complicated projects like refrigeration. Gordon Food Service also takes advantage of incentives offered by utilities. Both the compressed air audit and the lighting upgrade were eligible for financial incentives from Consumers Energy, a consideration that helped move the projects forward.

“We look at this (Battle of the Buildings) recognition as an affirmation of our long-term commitment to energy conservation,” Grimes acknowledges. “We have been at this awhile, and it’s really satisfying to see the trend line go down over the years.”

Pictured from left to right: Ron Luke-Gordon Food Service, Scott DeVos-Gordon Food Service.

Regarding other sustainability initiatives Gordon Food Service is committed to, Stewardship Specialist Jane Feenstra cites the construction of a wind farm in Huron County and the hosting of its own internal Battle of the Buildings. The wind farm project, completed in 2016, includes 14 wind turbines that generate energy equal to approximately 33 percent of the company’s demand at all U.S. locations. Gordon Food Service’s own 2017 Battle of the Buildings includes all 16 of its U.S. Distribution Centers, together totaling more than 6 million sq. ft., and features the roll-out of Midwest Energy’s Foresight Energy Management Dashboard. First- and second-place winners in each region will receive a financial incentive and company-wide recognition.

“We are committed to continuous improvement and being great stewards in our communities,” Feenstra says.

Published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal
Written by Renae Hesselink of Nichols

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