Case Closed 


Fresh Madison Market, in downtown Madison, Wis., operates on three guiding principles: sustainability, eating well and green living. The 18,000-sq.-ft. store, which opened last year and has a fresh foods focus, adheres to eco-friendly practices throughout its operation and boasts an extensive recycling program that comes complete with its own cardboard baler.


Not surprisingly, Fresh Madison puts a priority on energy savings. The store has a customized refrigeration system that utilizes a hydronic system to recover waste heat from the refrigeration compressors, with the reclaimed heat used to heat the space. The excess energy provided by the unit spills over to the other tenants in the building and helps to reduce their energy costs as well. 


When it came to selecting its refrigerated display cases, Fresh Madison also thought green and opted for energy-efficient closed-door coolers over traditional open-deck cases. The grocery selected the new, medium-temperature Crystal Merchandiser with 74-in. CoolView doors (from Zero Zone, North Prairie, Wis.) to display traditional dairy products, packaged deli meats, select beverages and packaged salads. It installed Zero Zone’s low-temp door cases (T2) for frozen food and ice cream. 


“When it came to maximizing our space, we thought that the Zero Zone doors would be most appropriate to bring us more SKU count, as well as terrific savings from an energy standpoint,” said Jeff Maurer, owner, Fresh Madison Market. The 30-year supermarket veteran served as president of the Pierce’s Markets chain before going into business for himself. 


The low-temp cases match up well with the medium-temp ones. Both are outfitted with black interiors and exteriors and have 6-ft. tall LED light bars that evenly illuminate the featured products. 


The door cases, for both medium and low temperatures, use LED lighting. Fresh Madison shoppers have commented that the lighting makes the cases stand out and highlight the products inside. 


“Because the grocery aisles run perpendicular to the dairy doors, the customer can literally stand near the deli or near the checkouts and see the rear of the store,” Maurer explained. “The way the lights hit the product is very attractive, and it really catches their attention.” 


Located in the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison community, Fresh Market attracts a youthful, environmentally conscious audience that supports the store’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. Maurer said he has received no negative comments from customers regarding the use of the Crystal doors versus open cases. 


“Our sales have far exceeded expectations, not only in overall store sales, but in the departments where we have the Zero Zone cases,” he added. 


From a control standpoint, the temperatures are very good.


“The ice cream products have been very solid, and the temperatures are really very well maintained,” Maurer said. 


In addition to providing more facings and more packout compared with traditional open deck cases, the closed-door units are extremely energy efficient, saving 75% to 80% of normal cooler electricity costs. 


To communicate the energy savings and resulting eco-benefits to customers, the store posted decals on some of the case doors detailing the specifics (one decal reads: “These door cases save enough electricity to power 14 homes!”).


The energy efficiency of the cases allowed Fresh Market to install a smaller rack system than it otherwise would have. 


“We were able to spend less money on the rack system, which helps return our investment that much sooner on the store,” Maurer said. 


A larger rack system also would have increased the horsepower requirements of the refrigeration system, which, in turn, would have increased the size of the condenser and all associated piping. It’s estimated the additional refrigeration requirements would have cost some $9,500 more.