Stellar, a fully integrated firm focused on design, engineering, construction and mechanical services worldwide, has completed the expansion of Bahamas Food Services’ refrigerated distribution center in Nassau, Bahamas.

Stellar doubled the refrigerated space—adding 56,000 square feet and two new temperature zones—and designed an advanced refrigeration and automation solution that is projected to enable Bahamas Food Services to operate the expanded facility at pre-expansion energy levels. Stellar provided design, construction, refrigeration, thermal, and automation services for the project, which began February 2012 and was completed February 2013.

“What is unique about Stellar is that they are food industry specialists, with deep expertise in areas like refrigeration and automation,” said Phill Duncombe of Bahamas Food Services. “In this regard, they provide more than just a building—they find ways to make your facility more resilient, energy efficient and productive. They also have all the staff and resources in-house to fully deliver the project, from the construction of the building to the energy analysis and automation integration.”

Bahamas Food Services is the largest food distributor in the Bahamas, serving the island nation’s hotel, restaurant and grocery industry from its 220,000-square-foot Nassau distribution center. Stellar built Bahamas Food Services’ original facility more than a decade ago. The facility expansion includes a -10°F freezer, three separate coolers, dry air-conditioned space, a meat processing room, and electrical room. The expansion features pallet storage racks and LED light fixtures for energy savings. The company required additional warehouse space to meet rising demands due to the growth of the Bahamian tourism industry.

Prior to construction, Stellar conducted an extensive analysis of the future expansion’s required refrigeration loads. The company’s integrated refrigeration team—comprising both mechanical and automation engineers—designed an advanced refrigeration system with state-of-the-art controls and energy-monitoring capabilities. To obtain baseline data to measure future results, the team installed energy monitoring controls six months prior to construction start.

“Stellar was very proactive in suggesting ways we could save more energy,” said Duncombe. “Our electric bill is a major portion of our operating costs, so finding cost-effective ways to save energy is incredibly valuable.”

“Bahamas Food Services operates a highly energy-intensive facility on an island where power averages $0.38 per kilowatt-hour—compared to $0.06 to $0.11 in the United States,” said Kevin Frantz, Stellar’s Automation Manager. “The facility is also subject to disruptive weather events and must be highly resilient, with back-up compressors to ensure the system continues running at all times.”

Stellar revamped the facility’s refrigeration system, designing a new compressor line-up featuring variable frequency drives and booster compressors to increase resiliency and improve energy efficiency. Stellar also upgraded the refrigeration system’s controls using Rockwell Automation’s ControlLogix and now remotely monitors, controls and troubleshoots the system via high-speed Ethernet.