At The Fresh Market, shoppers can catch not only a delectable aroma but also the hint of classical music in the air. When the specialty grocery retailer decided to test updated indoor lighting at its new stores—to be followed by updated lighting at some existing stores—it wanted an energy-saving LED replacement lamp with a high color rendering index (CRI) and long life. After a thorough evaluation, it found its final answer in GE's energy smart® 17-watt LED PAR38 Retail lamp. Once all installations are complete, GE's grocery store lighting solution will result in significant annual cost savings for The Fresh Market based on a more than 10 million kilowatt hour (kWh) reduction.
GE's new PAR38 LED lamps help The Fresh Market maintain its specialty atmosphere by enhancing the color quality of goods and produce
All LEDs are Not Equal
The Fresh Market first started to evaluate its retail lighting energy costs in 2011 and began researching the potential to save money across its property portfolio. With an understanding of lighting as a long-term investment, not a decision to be made quickly, the grocer launched into a thorough trial and evaluation period with the help of its distributor partner Illuminating Technologies.
"We didn't just replace 10 or 15 lights in one area of the store—we actually asked suppliers to provide us with 300 lamps for a complete store retrofit so our executives could properly evaluate the light levels, quality and spread," says Paul Poole, energy and engineering manager for The Fresh Market. "While saving energy is important to us, an essential element of The Fresh Market's concept is the visual appeal of different foods and unique environments for our customers throughout the stores."
When customers first walk through the doors of The Fresh Market, they step into an old-world, European atmosphere—greeted by an open-air layout, friendly staff and freshly brewed coffee waiting to be sipped. With produce bins piled high, cases of fresh meats and fine cheeses, and baked goods displayed daily, attractive grocery store lighting is essential for setting the mood for shoppers.
The new PAR38 LED lamps helped The Fresh Market maintain its retail atmosphere by enhancing the color quality of goods while reducing glare, consuming less energy and generating less heat than the traditional halogen lamps they replaced.
GE's LED PAR38 Retail lamps also were selected for their initial lumen output and, in particular, lower lumen depreciation compared to other products The Fresh Market tested. Unlike conventional light sources, LED lamps tend not to "fail" suddenly. Rather, light output gradually diminishes over a long period of time—for instance, GE's lamps can be expected to maintain at least 70 percent of initial lumen output after 50,000 hours of operation.
As well, GE's exclusive Visual Comfort Lens™ technology was a key factor in the grocer's final decision. The special lens diffuses the light produced by individual LED diodes to eliminate the "spots" that can appear on food or in reflective surfaces when using lamps with exposed diodes.
"During the vetting process, The Fresh Market was diligent about checking product warranty, performance and reliability," said Gordon Hunt, president and chief marketing officer for Illuminating Technologies. "Furthermore, when dealing with a product with this long of a life, they wanted to make sure to work with a reputable company like GE that could deliver on warranty claims and product quality."
Since March 2011, The Fresh Market has installed nearly 17,000 PAR38 LED replacement lamps in its stores, with remaining installations to be completed this year.
Prior to the switch, an average grocery store housing 312 64-watt halogen lamps would consume about 107,800 kWh of electricity annually. Now, stores outfitted with GE's 17-watt PAR38 LED replacement lamps, a product of GE ecomaginationSM, stand to use about 28,600 kWh—or nearly 80,000 fewer kWh a year. This will translate to just over a two-year payback period for most stores. Some locations have even captured energy-efficient lighting rebates because of their initiative, helping to further drive down project costs.
Once all 130+ locations are complete, The Fresh Market's comprehensive lighting update will translate to a total annual energy reduction of more than 10 million kWh. In terms of CO2 and other gasses released per kWh of electricity generated, this is equivalent to removing 1,376 passenger cars from the road for a year, or to planting 1,965 acres of trees.*
Other Cool Benefits
"As we started to replace the old halogen bulbs with LED lamps, we realized we were taking the first stage of heat out of the building. As a result, we don't have to run our HVAC systems as much because less heat is generated from other equipment in the building," explained Poole. "Add to that the anticipated time savings from our store managers replacing bulbs—LEDs have a 50,000-hour life compared to halogen's 3,000-hour life–and there is very low risk with this project.
"Moving forward," Poole said, "we plan to take a hard look at any store lighting that isn't currently LED."