Wegmans Switching to High-efficiency Lighting

By the end of the year, Wegmans Food Markets plans to use only half the energy it now employs to light several of its Rochester, N.Y.-area facilities, once the replacement of 5,700 older metal halide and high-pressure sodium fixtures with new high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures with associated controls has been completed.

The retrofitted facilities will include almost all of the grocer's warehouse complexes in the city, its hometown.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that about 22 percent of the electricity used in the United States is for lighting. The projected electric savings related to Wegmans' project would power over 800 homes for a year.

Wegmans will spend a little more than $1.5 million to replace the fixtures, and expects to recoup its investment in the form of lower energy costs in about three years. The project is part of the company's overall commitment to the basic principles of sustainability: to reduce, reuse, and recycle wherever possible.

"There are many reasons why cutting energy use is the right thing to do," noted Wegmans sustainability specialist Jason Wadsworth. "If we use less energy and thus lower our costs, we can hold the line on food prices, while reducing our impact on the environment. Our employees win, too; the new lights are brighter and create a much better work environment."

In addition to this project, all new Wegmans stores employ high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures overhead, so aisles can be illuminated for half of the energy cost of the metal halide bulbs previously used. The grocer is additionally using LED lighting for door units of freezer, dairy, and other cooler cases, as well as for exit signs and exterior display signs such as the large Wegmans sign over the entrance of every store. LED technology uses less energy than other forms of lighting and gives off less heat, which is a bonus in a department where temperature controls must be tightly maintained for food safety.

"We are pursuing environmentally friendly design, construction, and maintenance practices where feasible in all of our facilities," explained Wegmans v.p. of design services and maintenance Carol Duquette. "Lighting is an area where technology is improving energy efficiency at an incredible rate. These lighting projects, and our continued use of environmentally friendly secondary refrigeration systems in our stores, keep Wegmans on the forefront of sustainability in our industry."

Wegmans operates 72 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.
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