Venstar’s Surveyor Energy Management System Helps AutoZone Save Millions

When AutoZone was challenged with ever-increasing energy costs as the chain grew, the company’s energy and maintenance teams were tasked with finding a way to manage and reduce energy spending to accommodate the fast-paced growth. After considering several energy management systems, the team chose Venstar’s Surveyor Energy Management System.

Venstar, a leading energy management, thermostat and controls manufacturer, already had been providing AutoZone with customized thermostats for its stores. In 2003, AutoZone tested Venstar’s Surveyor Energy Management System at 26 stores in California. Based on the positive test results, AutoZone was awarded $1.1 million from the California Energy Commission to help subsidize Surveyor installation in 380 California AutoZone locations as part of the “Cash for Kilowatts” program.

The program proved to be a huge success. Surveyor significantly cut energy usage at the California stores while also maintaining a safe and comfortable environment. Today, Surveyor helps AutoZone manage energy costs for more than 5,700 stores throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

“We knew that Surveyor would help us control our energy costs, but we did not expect the savings in maintenance and truck rolls,” says Larry “Mac” McBryde, energy manager, customer satisfaction at AutoZone. “It’s a considerable bonus.”

Since first implementing Surveyor in 2003, AutoZone has achieved a reduction in energy spending by an estimated 30 percent compared to not having an energy management system. In addition to its presence in more than 5,700 stores, Surveyor manages more than 19,000 HVAC units and more than 5,700 electrical lighting control panels using more than 200,000 sensors. The typical AutoZone store has about 8,000 square feet and up to nine rooftop HVAC systems. Lighting is divided into four zones: work, sales, sign, and site. Most stores have peak loads of 30 kW to 60 kW per month.

“AutoZone’s energy spend has remained flat over the past dozen years since we rolled out Surveyor, even though we have added 1,300 stores,” says Kacey Reed, manager of maintenance and setup, customer satisfaction at AutoZone.

Charles Reno, energy management system specialist, customer satisfaction at AutoZone, adds that Venstar consistently meets the company’s needs to manage HVAC and lighting usage effectively.

Steve Dushane, president and CEO of Venstar, says the positive results should continue into the future.

“AutoZone’s success in reducing its energy usage is a direct result of nearly 20 years of close collaboration between our two companies, which includes more than a dozen years with Surveyor,” he says. “We are committed to helping AutoZone continue to manage its energy spend, achieve incremental savings, and meet its environmental responsibility initiatives while saving millions of dollars per year.”

A Closer Look at Venstar’s Surveyor Energy Management System 

AutoZone chose Venstar’s Surveyor based on its proven success and robust capabilities that meet the unique needs of small-box retailers. The system’s benefits include:

  • Remote monitoring and control of HVAC and lighting equipment, which enabled AutoZone to reduce energy usage across its stores
  • Surveyor’s mobile app for smart phones and tablets, used by 150 field personnel, including AutoZone’s maintenance team
  • Ability to maintain comfortable store temperatures and proper lighting with the option to override the system’s preset program to accommodate changing schedules for store maintenance, inventories, and deliveries
  • Visual reporting on a big-screen monitor that shows the status of every store as well as local weather so adjustments can be made to keep stores comfortable during extreme weather
  • Exception reporting that alerts the maintenance team when store systems deviate from preset temperatures or if there’s an increase in kilowatt hours or gas usage to quickly resolve problems
  • Reduced costs by eliminating unnecessary maintenance truck dispatches as many issues can be remotely resolved before store personnel are even aware of them
  • Extensive data mining, diagnostics, and analytics capabilities that help identify areas for additional energy savings, further reducing costs
  • Demand-response manager that supports utility curtailment programs for additional cost savings
  • Customization to meet AutoZone’s unique needs, including door counters and monitoring of oil recycling tanks