Uniform Control


Cabela’s now has uniform standards for temperature and lighting control and electrical and mechanical equipment.

Cabela’s Inc. has long been an advocate of energy efficiency. But several years back, the Sidney, Neb.-based hunting, fishing and camping retailer saw an opportunity to streamline its design and construction processes and accrue greater energy and cost savings by standardizing energy-efficiency measures. It adopted uniform standards for temperature and lighting, as well as electrical and mechanical equipment for all new stores.

The results have been significant. The 10 stores built between 2006 and 2008, for example, were found to be 21% more energy efficient than their existing counterparts. It is estimated that the chain saved a total of some $1 million in energy costs for the new stores (and for several remodels).

Lighting-control technologies were integral to the savings. As part of its energy-efficiency standardization, Cabela’s made Schneider Electric’s Powerlink G3 2000 Level intelligent lighting-control panelboards and commercial-grade occupancy sensors the standard for new construction. (Previously, the company had been using a variety of technologies from multiple suppliers.)

Along with reducing energy, the strategy has made lighting and occupancy sensing essentially a “hands-off” proposition for the managers of Cabela’s newer locations. To balance the need for adequate lighting with energy efficiency, the stores are circuited so that half the general lighting in the retail area and all accent and display lamps are turned off after store hours. A front-end master controller, located within the Powerlink panelboard in the store’s electrical room, is connected to the Internet via Ethernet.

Four to 10 lighting-control subpanels are dispersed throughout the store. Each also contain a controller that alters lighting based on the schedules within the master controller or commands from occupancy sensors. (The security system, fire alarm and generator transfer switch were also tied into the intelligent lighting-control panelboard, to force all lighting to turn on during alarm periods.)

By the time a store manager arrives in the morning, the lights are already staging up. At 9 p.m., the lights begin turning off, and by 10 p.m., the system is down to nighttime requirements. The exterior lighting, including signage and parking lot lights, also are scheduled into the controller in the panelboard.

The deployment of lighting control standards has other benefits as well. The Ethernet access built into the controllers allows lighting schedules for all stores connected to the network to be adjusted via the Internet. This means that schedules can be changed remotely based on the need, such as to accommodate extended holiday shopping hours.

As part of the chain’s product standardization, high-bay warehouse lighting in new stores was shifted from metal-halide fixtures that typically were on most of the day to high-bay florescent-scent fixtures controlled by occupancy sensors. Once motion is detected by the occupancy sensor in a given aisle, lights turn on until the movement is no longer detected. If there is no activity detected for 10 minutes, lights turn off. Occupancy sensors are used in storage rooms, offices, electric rooms, the employee breakroom and the restrooms.

The equipment and building standardization has also helped the facilities team better manage energy usage. Schneider’s PowerLogic power meters provide a constant flow of information, allowing the type of quick decision-making that can increase energy efficiency even further. Power metering also allows Cabela’s to track the energy usage of various stores and see actual energy usage throughout the year.

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