sustainabilityJ&J Distributing is beginning a journey called Sustainability. Sustainability has a number of definitions which include “preserving the world’s natural resources for future generations” and “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

J&J is making a conscious effort to examine its operations and find ways to lessen its imprint on the world. This effort follows the spirit of the definitions listed above. Some of these efforts may be grand in scale, while others are simple, ordinary activities.

This past summer Xcel Energy visited J&J to explore ways to lower the use of energy in the building. The Xcel engineer at the meeting, Michael Anderson, made a comment about capturing the heat generated by the 38 refrigeration units on the roof and selling, or using it for another use. When Michael found out that J&J was contemplating the construction of an indoor farm on company property, his eyes got big. Michael said that J&J could use the heat from a more efficient refrigeration system in the indoor farm.

At the same time, The City of St. Paul through the St. Paul Port Authority gave final approval to the Trillion BTU Energy Efficiency Improvement Program. The Trillion Program is designed to assist existing commercial users to invest in energy efficiency and improve their profitability. At a meeting that included representatives from the City, Port Authority, Xcel and J&J, agreement was reached on a study to determine the cost effectiveness of making the building more efficient through better lighting, insulation and refrigeration systems. The Trillion Program involves changing the refrigeration to a chiller system. A chiller system pumps cooled water through a building. The heat generated by cooling the water is easily transferred to another use, such as an indoor farm. Chiller systems are used in large buildings such as hospitals, shopping centers, Xcel Center and Metrodome.  A unique feature of a chiller system is that cold can be stored for use if the power to the building is disrupted. Using a simple generator, the cold can be pulled out of storage and used to keep J&J’s inventory cooled until power is restored. If these concepts seem feasible, construction activity could begin early next year.