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Ameren Illinois, Schnucks partner to install cutting-edge cooling technology at Fairview Heights store

Shown from left are Ike Eichenlaub, manager HVAC/R & Energy for Schnucks Markets, and Tom Tyler, industrial energy advisor, Ameren Illinois, on top of the roof at the Fairview Heights Schnucks store. The two are checking the equipment that transmits data from all the sensors in the system to the internet. (Photo courtesy Ameren Illinois)


Innovative SkyCool System — the first of its kind in Illinois — features rooftop radiative panels to reduce store’s electricity use and carbon footprint

In a pioneering effort to combat the high costs of commercial refrigeration, Ameren Illinois partnered with the Schnucks supermarket chain to install a cutting-edge radiative rooftop panel system at its Fairview Heights store. 

As it became operational in July, the SkyCool System at the Fairview Heights Schnucks represents the first of its kind in Illinois, and one of only 20 such systems installed around the world. 

“Refrigeration consumes more electricity than any other component of a grocery store’s operation, with freezers and coolers having to run 24/7/365, so any chance to improve performance helps keep operations costs down and lower our customers’ cost at the register,” said Ike Eichenlaub, manager, HVAC/R & Energy for Schnucks Markets.

Leveraging game-changing technology from SkyCool Systems, Ameren Illinois worked with Schnucks to install rooftop panels at its Fairview Heights store. The system of panels integrates with the store’s existing cooling systems. Layered, radiative cooling films on the panels act like a mirror, reflecting up to 97% of sunlight back into the atmosphere. 

By cooling the fluids used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems, the SkyCool System improves the operating efficiency of the units by as much as 40%. 

Because it helps to keep the building and food products cool with less energy, the innovative system will help the Schnucks store reduce its monthly power bill and its impact on the environment. 

Unlike other energy-efficient cooling technologies, the SkyCool system requires no water, produces no carbon emissions and uses only a minimal amount of electricity to power a small circulating pump.

“Schnuck Markets, Inc. appreciates the opportunity to partner with Ameren Illinois and SkyCool on this innovative energy-savings initiative,” Eichenlaub said. “It is a rare opportunity to find something that adds reliability, increases life expectancy of equipment and provides cost savings.”

“In its mission to help customers improve comfort, manage energy usage and reduce costs, the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program is proud to be the first in our region to offer this innovative energy-saving system for our business customers,” said Ameren Illinois Director of Energy Efficiency Pat Justis. “As global temperatures continue to rise and refrigeration systems and air conditioning become more important in our communities, radiative cooling may play a key role in meeting the energy needs of the future.”

For more information on the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program, including ways to save, visit


This story also appears in the August 2023 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.

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