Focus on: Lighting

Staples’ efficiency upgrade has bottom-line results

Staples has upgraded to higher-efficiency T8s.

Conserving energy just seems to come naturally to Staples Inc. The office supply chain’s embrace of energy-efficient technologies and practices throughout its facilities has won it a reputation as one of the retail industry’s leading green stars. Indeed, Staples was recently honored as the 2011 Energy Star Partner of the Year in Energy Management by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its leadership in energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Staples’ commitment to reducing its impact on the environment is also good for its business, as is evidenced by two recent lighting retrofits. The projects, undertaken in partnership with Sylvania Lighting Services (SLS), a subsidiary of Osram Sylvania, are estimated to save Staples a combined 10,193,770 kilowatt-hours annually, lessening the company’s carbon footprint by 15,647,437 lbs. of CO2 emissions annually, while also limiting the stores’ maintenance needs. The bottom-line savings are equally impressive: The project resulted in more than a million dollars in annual energy savings. 

After reviewing the lighting systems used in Staples’ interiors, SLS recommended upgrading from first-generation T8 fluorescent lamps to a high-efficiency T8 lamp and ballast system for nearly 700 retail locations across the country. SLS retrofitted approximately 1,000 30-watt linear fluorescent lamps per location with 28-watt Octron 800XP SuperSaver fluorescent lamps and Quicktronic high-efficiency, instant-start, T8 ballasts. 

“The 700 stores identified for upgrades are projects scheduled over several years, at least four years in the time frame,” said Bob Valair, director of energy and environmental management, Staples. “It’s Staples’ strategy to consider retrofit lighting in stores that have reached an eight-to-10-year time frame in lighting.” 

The new lamps have not impacted store environment. 

“In an ideal lighting retrofit, the lighting to associates and customers should not be noticeable,” Valair explained. “The best retrofit provides better technology and more efficient lighting, but not a noticeable change.”

As to new stores, Staples is always updating its store prototype and store design with the latest technology. 

“This allows for the new stores to be installed with the latest and most efficient technology,” Valair added.

In a related project, SLS installed Sylvania PowerShed ballasts in more than 100 Staples stores in California. The high-tech ballasts interface with smart-grid technology and lower store light levels during periods of peak electricity demand, limiting the risk of rolling blackouts.

PARKING LOT: After reviewing the existing 400-watt metal-halide fixtures used throughout the parking lot of Staples headquarters, SLS recommended a switch to a 42-watt modular LED lighting system featuring 28 Osram Golden Dragon Plus Oval LED packages. 

Using roughly one-tenth the energy of the metal-halide lamps, the LEDs are a brighter and whiter light source. The directional quality of the lamps provide illumination only where needed, and eliminate unnecessary upward light and light trespass.

As to whether Staples plans to implement the LED parking lot retrofit in other locations, Valair said the company will consider it for the new store prototype. He noted the company is continuously testing new products and technologies.

Staples’ North American properties are under an SLS lighting maintenance program whereby the chain’s lighting is monitored on a regular basis.

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