Stellar, a Jacksonville, Fla., design-build firm, completed the expansion of Bahamas Food Services’ refrigerated distribution center in Nassau, Bahamas.Stellar Bahamas Food Service facility

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,” says Phill Duncombe, owner 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 said to be 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 an electrical room. The expansion features pallet storage racks and LED light fixtures for energy savings.

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.

“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,” says Kevin Frantz, automation manager for Stellar. “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 lineup 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.