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Performance Food Group and Partners Unveil Sustainable Distribution Center of the Future

performance food group

Performance Food Group Company (PFG), Advanced Energy Machines (AEM), FreeWire Technologies, GridMarket, and

Performance Food Group Company (PFG), Advanced Energy Machines (AEM), FreeWire Technologies, GridMarket, and Volvo Trucks North America joined forces to host a special open house event at PFG’s Gilroy, CA facility. The event showcased their collaborative efforts in creating a sustainable distribution center model for the future.

PFG is committed to mitigating its carbon footprint and being responsible stewards of the environment. By partnering with industry-leading companies, PFG has implemented the use of direct-emissions-free transportation and refrigeration technologies, and incorporated solar power generation capabilities, into its Gilroy facility. Each of these initiatives play a significant role towards ensuring PFG’s success in achieving key sustainability goals and metrics.

“PFG is proud to partner with companies that are at the forefront of building a sustainable architecture for our facilities,” said Jeff Williamson, senior vice president, Operations, PFG. “What we’ve achieved at our Gilroy facility is a testament to how strong collaboration by all parties can have significant, positive results that benefit the environment and lead the way when it comes to distribution center sustainability.”

Zero-Emission Truck and Trailer Refrigeration Units

To help grow its zero-emission fleet, PFG deployed seven zero-tailpipe emission Class 8 Volvo VNR Electric trucks with support from TEC Equipment – Oakland, a Volvo Trucks Certified Electric Vehicle dealership.

TEC Equipment will provide service and support to the fleet’s Volvo VNR Electric trucks that are in use for deliveries in the northern region of the state. PFG also worked with TEC Equipment to evaluate funding opportunities to offset the costs for the battery-electric trucks and required infrastructure. Vouchers from California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) were used to purchase the Volvo VNR Electric trucks. Launched in 2009 by the California Air Resources Board as part of California Climate Investments, the HVIP program accelerates the commercialization of battery-electric trucks by providing first-come, first-served incentives to make advanced technology vehicles more affordable.

“Private industry across California and across sectors is stepping up to be a part of the solutions that are needed to fight climate change, improve air quality and ensure economic competitiveness,” said Davina Hurt, Board Member, California Air Resources Board. “The efforts done by Performance Food Group are an example of the innovation that will build a healthier California and of the partnerships that will be needed to make a zero-emissions future a reality.”

“Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to highlight PFG’s smart solution that many food delivery businesses can model to help achieve their sustainability goals. We’re excited to partner with PFG to see those same advantages expand to California’s northern communities,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “We’ve seen great success with customers pairing our zero-tailpipe emission Volvo VNR Electric model with electric TRUs to reduce noise and emissions while also enhancing the transport experience for drivers and the neighboring communities at delivery destinations.”

In addition to adding electric trucks to its fleet, PFG’s sustainability plan calls for the food distributor to move away from diesel-powered TRUs. To help achieve that goal, PFG partnered with Advance Energy Machines (AEM) to successfully replace its diesel-powered TRUs with 30+ of AEM’s zero-emission SolarTechTRUs to date. Each of the electric TRU installations completed within PFG’s fleet of refrigerated trailers has helped PFG eliminate approximately 20 tons of CO2 per TRU, per year. PFG has paired the Volvo VNR Electric trucks with electric transport refrigeration units (TRUs).

“Eliminating fine particle black carbon from energy sources has been a daunting challenge for the cold chain transportation industry. We applaud the leading-edge efforts PFG has devoted to their exemplary Gilroy site, as well as their other sites being worked on,” said Robert Koelsch, CEO, AEM. “We’re honored to be a part of their carbon-reduction solution. Their leadership will surely blaze the path for others to follow.”

Considering the size of PFG’s fleet and the conversions, as of Q1 2024, PFG has been able to reduce CO2 output by 500 tons over the past three years (CORE report). AEM’s proprietary solar-electric power system runs on low voltage DC, so PFG has been able to create a uniquely energy-efficient and safe workplace as well.

Zero-emission Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

The successful deployment of zero-emission trucks and TRUs only works when a charging solution is in place to handle the increasing need for electric power. To help prepare the Gilroy facility to effectively handle its growing fleet of electric vehicles, PFG turned to FreeWire Technologies to implement a charging solution that would meet the facility’s needs.

FreeWire Technologies installed 15 Boost Chargers at PFG’s Gilroy site that are capable of simultaneously charging 30 Class 8 tractors. These Boost Chargers deliver an ultra-fast charge using an internal battery to increase the speed of the charge without the direct use of grid power. FreeWire’s energy requirements are nearly 10 times lower than traditional chargers, reducing peak energy demand and grid strain while providing more efficient power.

“We applaud the work that Performance Food Group is doing to prioritize sustainable transportation,” said Rob Anderson, Director of Fleet Sales at FreeWire. “By using FreeWire’s battery-integrated charging technology, PFG was able to add 3MW of power needed for ultrafast charging to their existing facility, leapfrogging the local utility company’s three-year timeline. This allows PFG to optimally operate their growing fleet of 100 percent electric Class 8 trucks today instead of three years from now.”

PFG utilized the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) EnergIIZE Commercial Vehicles (Energy Infrastructure Incentives for Zero-Emission Commercial Vehicles) program to develop its onsite charging infrastructure.

“Moving medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to zero emissions is crucial to achieving California’s climate and clean air goals,” said CEC Chair David Hochschild. “We applaud companies like PFG for taking this step toward making their industry more sustainable.”

Solar Power and Battery Storage

Along with its commitment to grow its fleet of zero-emission vehicles, PFG is also focused on installing the infrastructure needed to power the more than 189,000 square-foot facility through alternative and sustainable means. PFG Gilroy’s rooftop solar and battery storage project was initiated through GridMarket’s platform, using data and AI to automate the preliminary technology and financial feasibility assessments.

“In the California market, transportation and distribution companies have two choices – do the bare minimum to meet requirements, or really embrace the opportunity to become a leader in the industry,” said Peter Schneider, director of Business Development and Project Management, GridMarket. “PFG has chosen to lead, and we are so thrilled to be supporting them in their energy and electrification journey. GridMarket is proud to be part of this incredible team working with PFG. The solar and battery storage installation at Gilroy represents not only a significant value for PFG’s sustainability goals, but also helps make electrification a reality by providing the corresponding onsite energy infrastructure to balance charging demand.”

GridMarket analysts optimized the final project design scope to bring PFG the most value and set the facility up to handle the anticipated demand changes associated with installing chargers on site for the new electric vehicle fleet additions. GridMarket hosted a competitive bidding process that engaged top-tier vendors to review and submit proposals. PFG selected Enerlogics Networks, Inc. and partner MBL Energy, a team of top-tier national renewables developers, to install the rooftop solar system and battery.

“We are thrilled to have been selected as PFG’s chosen partner for the solar PV and battery storage installation,” said Scott Ameduri, president at Enerlogics. “The project will contribute to the company’s sustainability goals, providing cost savings and carbon reduction, while supporting fleet electrification initiatives. The PFG team and those on the ground at the Gilroy, CA facility have been fantastic partners, as we work alongside GridMarket and strategic partners such as MBL Energy to optimize the installation.”

PFG currently plans to continue its partnership with these industry-leading technology companies as it works to implement sustainability measures in its locations across North America.

Built in 2019, PFG’s Gilroy facility employs more than 200 and serves the California market from Sacramento to Big Sur and San Franciso to Fresno. The facility can expand to more than 342,000 square feet.

SOURCE: Performance Food Group

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