Lighting accounts for a major portion of supermarket energy use and expense, and retailers are benefiting both from their own increasing use of sustainable lighting, and from suppliers that have made sustainability a priority in this area.
- Food retailers are increasing sustainability and efficiency in their stores via LED lighting, and the subsequent savings are going directly to the bottom line.
- There’s been a resurgence in demand for LED display case lighting, with some retrofits now being done on products from manufacturers that are no longer in business.
- Designers will continue to learn better ways of integrating LED products and drive further innovation in products and usage.
Today’s food retailers are increasing lighting sustainability and efficiency in their stores, and the subsequent savings are going directly to the bottom line.
“We began using LED lighting with Walmart before the technology was ready for prime time,” recounts Thomas Henken, VP and director of design at api(+), in Tampa, Fla. “We are constantly improving the energy efficiency of our lighting selections, and the industry has developed products that are not only more efficient, but have become more cost-effective as the popularity of these fixtures has driven competition in the lighting products industry.”
For LED products, the benefits extend to getting the same light levels with energy reductions of 40% or more, Henken says. “Presence detection is also a great way to save on energy costs in ‘staff only’ areas,” he adds, “as the lights will dim or shut off when no presence is detected.”
LED lighting can be programmed with specific combinations of hues and tones to reduce discoloration of fresh products such as meats, produce and flower displays, Henken adds, noting that the equipment “allows lighting controls to be centrally operated for multiple stores, and managers can access controls via the app to create dedicated zones, schedule lighting levels to auto-adjust with the time of day, or bump up the brightness, setting the stage for an in-store event such as a celebrity chef event. If the store has windows or light wells, progressive LED controls will also adjust to harvest the natural daylight by adjusting their own light levels to a preset standard. There is no need to shut the light off outside of operating hours, because the system is auto-scheduled to ensure lighting is only on when needed.”
Christopher Eisenack, in charge of end-user product marketing at Somerset, N.J.-based Signify US, which offers a broad range of Philips LED lighting products, affirms that supermarkets are starting to make great strides in sustainability, with many launching programs to reduce energy consumption and costs.
Creating Comfortable Spaces
When it comes to sustainable HVAC systems for supermarkets, Ben Tacka, sustainability programs leader at Davidson, N.C.-based Ingersoll Rand, says, “Trane products within the EcoWise portfolio are designed to help lower environmental impact with next-generation, low global-warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and high-efficiency operation.”
Tacka notes that in 2014, Trane made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its products and operations by 2020, and surpassed that goal two years early. Compared with a 2013 baseline, GHG emissions were reduced across global operations by 43%, and the GHG footprint of the product portfolio by 52%.
He adds that Trane has embarked on “even bolder 2030 sustainability commitments with its Gigaton Challenge, designed to reduce the customer’s carbon footprint from buildings, homes and transportation by 1 gigaton” — that is, 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases.
“For supermarkets, we expect to see more appropriate-sized equipment for lower-energy and refrigerant profiles, and an increased use of data and digital solutions to ensure systems are run in the most efficient way,” Tacka asserts. “For example, Trane’s building energy management systems help customers uncover and reduce energy waste, and proactively monitor systems 24/7 to prevent downtime.”
Going forward, he believes that “[s]ustainable-minded food retailers will take a more holistic approach to building equipment, controls and energy management to create comfortable spaces that provide optimal occupant experience, reduce operating costs and minimize energy consumption.”
Wooldridge adds that one large wholesale chain came to ILT to custom-engineer a display case light because the current ones kept getting damaged when product was loaded. “Ours is so durable, you can run over it with a forklift and it will still light,” she observes.
ILT’s proprietary optical design delivers a wide-angle beam while reaching deep into the case. According to Wooldridge, the company has seen a resurgence in demand for display case lighting, because some retrofits were last done more than 10 years ago, and those manufacturers aren’t in business any more.
She sees a “major challenge” for grocers in dealing with LED products that have failed, because “in many instances, the light engine and fixture are one unit, so when the light engine fails — or the lumen output depreciates to the point that it no longer provides adequate illumination — the customer is often left having to replace the whole unit.”
According to Rich Rattray, technical specification manager at Wilmington, Mass.-based Ledvance, Sylvania LED lighting retrofits save 40% to 70% in energy costs, and most LED products have a lifespan twice that of traditional lamps, providing significant savings for food retailers, because the lights are higher in the ceiling and a lift may be needed for access to light fixtures.
“Supermarkets make careful decisions regarding their capital investments,” Rattray observes. “LED lighting retrofits can range from simple to a complete lighting upgrade, thereby allowing the choice of the level of investment. As an added benefit, most areas of the United States offer a utility incentive for this type of retrofit, which will further improve the return on investment.”
Ledvance is launching a family of Sylvania LED products that produce light that’s closer to natural light, and the company is further adopting controls that allow food retailers to save additional energy, as the light can be easily adjusted to lower light output as needed.
The Future of LEDs
“We see the high efficiency of LED lighting products and the range of options continuing to develop,” says api(+)’s Henken. “Designers will continue to learn better ways of integrating these products and drive further innovation in products and usage. I’m also thinking that in my lifetime, we’ll see a day when this technology is dated and the amazing efficiency we have come to love is no longer state of the art.”
“We are able to use slim lines and color-changing features that were unavailable in the past,” weighs in Max Cohen, marketing director at Yorkville, N.Y.-based Meyda Lighting, which makes a broad range of custom energy-efficient and sustainable light fixtures for food retailers. “Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) is the future of the LED world, and it is exciting to see the advances that have been made there in the past few years.”