Money savings on the rooftop!

Project Profile

2011-rooftopLet’s talk about high performance. When a national broadline foodservice distributor wanted to expand its Dallas location, ESI Group presented several solutions to address current and future needs.

This 2011 project consisted of a 54,000- square-foot warehouse expansion that included additional freezer, cooler and refrigerated dock areas. The construction involved insulated metal panels, concrete tilt-up, white TPO single-ply membrane roof and ammonia refrigeration.

“A unique design element is that the refrigeration equipment enclosure skid – complete with compressors, vessels, piping and MCC – was placed on the roof,” notes Don Olsen, ESI Design’s lead project engineer. “We designed it that way because the client didn’t have space in front of its docks and couldn’t afford to lose a dock door. The enclosure skid is out of their way for daily operations yet is still accessible for maintenance.”

ESI also installed rooftop solar panels (using Serco panels and connections) to power the expansion’s dock door equipment. Technology advancements in this field are making it more popular and feasible to use solar panels for various refrigerated warehouse power requirements.

“Although it’s only been operating for several months, this technology already is saving money for our client,” says Tim Nguyen, a regional vice president with ESI Constructors.

By Don Olsen and Tim Nguyen

By Don Olsen, a lead project engineer with 20 years design experience; and Tim Nguyen, a regional vice president with 20 years in cold storage industry



Slow market conditions are fueling foreign and domestic com-petition and keeping steel prices low. Structural racking is replacing roll form racking and is more accepted (with a 10 percent price difference). Re-enforcing rack now is more common and overall cost is minimal compared to repair costs. Powder paint finish is more popular because of its competitive pricing, value and appearance.


Growing? Don’t just duplicate the same racking. Prior to the project, slot your products and review product movement. Then consider best options (such as two-deep push back or planned inventory retrieval) to match actual activity. Working with a new vendor? Verify past projects, check references.


Don’t buy racking without a clear understanding of DC inven-tory flows and outbound orders. Schedule the project in phases to minimize disruptions to operations.


AS/RS systems offer better ROI today because of improved tech-nology and lower software costs. In the future, we project more semi-automated DC’s with fewer workers.

Brad Emerson has 22 years experience in storage design and engineering.


Join our eNewsletter

Get industry trends and insights for food facility design and construction quarterly.