By Steve Ryan, Robert Huang and Allison Bard
Data centers use an astounding 2% of the nation’s electricity. And for a number of years, the EPA Energy Star program has focused on providing companies with tools to gain a better understanding of the efficiency of their data center. For example, EPA’s building energy efficiency tool, portfolio manager, allows a company to compare their data center’s efficiency with hundreds of other data centers from across the country. Data centers that fall within the top 25% earn Energy Star certification. (Energy Star is a voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect the climate through superior energy efficiency.)
Target, one of the largest retailers in the United States, recently shared information with the EPA about a series of cost-effective energy-efficiency upgrades on two 45,000-sq.-ft. centers in Minnesota. As a result of the efficiency upgrades, Target was the first company to have two data centers earn the Energy Star building certification and was named an EPA Energy Star Low Carbon IT Champion in 2012.
Target took the following actions:
• Installed variable frequency drives (VFDs) on air conditioning units: VFDs allow fans to run at lower speeds by controlling the frequency of the electrical power supplied to the fan motor. Fan power consumption is proportional to the cube of fan speed, so a decrease in fan speed can lead to extraordinary reductions in fan energy use.
• Reduced temperatures on generator heaters: The temperature of generator heaters could be lowered from 140 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit because each was located within conditioned space.
• Installed timers and efficient lighting: Timers were installed to turn lights on at 6:00 a.m. and off at 4:30 p.m.
• Turned off unloaded transformers: Two unloaded power distribution units (PDUs) were taken offline at the Elk River data facility, where the computing load was not yet completely built out.
Target’s data center retrofits led to the savings of more than 5.8 million kWh annually (more than $500,000 in savings) and, on average, paid back in 1.4 years, including utility rebates. The annual carbon emission reduction achieved through these efforts is the equivalent of taking 800 cars off the road.
Steve Ryan, EPA Energy Star, Robert Huang and Allison Bard, Cadmus Group
Lighting Focus: LEDs and Controls
From LEDs and controls to rebates and incentives, lighting presents retailers with a myriad of opportunities for savings. Chain Store Age spoke with Regency Lighting’s Judah Regenstreif about lighting trends and the potential for savings, in new stores and existing locations.
What are some of the major trends Regency is seeing in retail lighting?
The biggest trend in lighting right now is LED technology. LED lighting used to be very expensive, but it has reached the point now where the price point, return on investment, color temperature, lumen output and quality are all ready for many retail applications.
As an incentive, EPAct legislation provides tax benefits for switching to energy-efficient lighting. In fact, some legislation has also put efficiency standards in place that make some traditional lighting products obsolete. Additionally, rebates have increased this year from $4.5 billion to $6 billion for switching to LEDs.
What are some of the most common mistakes retailers make when it comes to lighting maintenance?
One of the biggest mistakes a retailer can make is to aim a fixture improperly. It sounds crazy, but pointing a fixture in the right direction can make a huge difference — it will determine whether or not you are lighting your merchandise or lighting an aisle!
Another important consideration is choosing a maintenance company that actually knows and understands lighting. All too often we hear of a maintenance company going into a retail store and/or restaurant and incorrectly installing/replacing fixtures, lamps and ballasts.
Additionally, wattages and Kelvin temperatures (colors) can get mixed up, creating a space that is inconsistent in appearance and that deviates from the original design intent. Regency has an advantage in these cases in that we started off as a lighting distribution company first, developing our expertise specifically in understanding all facets of lighting.
Why is lighting consumption so crucial to retailers’ efforts to conserve energy?
For retailers, the majority of their electric bill comes from their HVAC system and their lighting. If you’re trying to save electricity, you have to target your lighting usage to be able to save.
If you could give retailers one piece of advice with regard to their lighting, what would it be?
Don’t ignore the legacy stores. It’s very easy to be focused on new construction and making new stores more energy efficient. But switching to LEDS in just the legacy stores alone can produce savings of seven figures. We use a database of rates and rebates to show our customers where the optimal opportunities are so that their decision to retrofit is strategic and profitable.
Are retailers taking advantage of lighting retrofit opportunities?
We are doing more retrofits every year. The cost of LED technology was too high initially, but over time it decreased drastically. Now the cost of retrofitting has significantly decreased and the quality has significantly improved, which has doubled our number of retrofit customers in the past year.
How is technology impacting lighting?
Within the lighting industry, apart from LEDs, controls seem to be the next great frontier in lighting. I believe the real future is in connecting devices together over the Internet and providing mobile applications to simplify what we do every day — and eventually lighting manufacturers are going to figure that out. I think it’s only a matter of time before people find a way to blend all of these new technologies together. The four words that we keep hearing are: connected, mobile, fast and easy. These words embody the focus of where lighting technology is going.
How can Regency help retailers with their lighting needs?
Our whole philosophy is to become a trusted adviser to our clients. We spend a lot of time studying the technical attributes of a product and where it’s going so we can provide the best solutions.
Lighting has become increasingly complex, so we understand that it can be confusing. We know that our clients want something that is proven, so we only do business with proven companies and technologies and spend time obsessing about the details so they don’t have to. It’s important to us that we slow the process down just enough to help our clients make the right choices by answering all of their questions.
Destination Maternity Corp. is thinking big. The world’s largest retailer of maternity apparel is bullish on its superstore format, with new locations in Paramus, N.J., and Virginia Beach, Va. The Philadelphia-based company has an estimated 35% to 45% share of the U.S. maternity market.
The two new stores vary in size and have different layouts, as well as some merchandising variations. But both are designed as customer-centric, one-stop shopping resources. And both share a common vision.
“Both stores recognize that for expectant or new mothers, it’s even more important to create an environment that is inviting, personal and can be navigated with ease,” said Ken Nisch, chairman, JGA, Southfield, Mich., which designed the two superstores. “It’s not untypical for the Destination Maternity customer to spend one or two hours in the store. Oftentimes, she doesn’t own any maternity wear and is buying an entire wardrobe. It’s all new to her.”
But fashion is only part of the equation. More than the average apparel shopper, Destination Maternity customers are looking for input and help as to what looks best on them.
“It’s a high-touch sell,” Nisch said.
The new superstores make it easy for customers to take care of all their wardrobing needs by showcasing the retailer’s full breadth of assortment via “lifestyle” zones for work, casual, sleep, intimates and nursing essentials. The zones encourage cross-shopping of all the brands the retailer sells.
“Historically, these categories weren’t brought together by end use,” Nisch added.
Also, both formats have defined areas that highlight the company’s very own Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod brands, with each department identified with subtle differences in materials, colors, accent fixtures and display techniques. Feature walls highlight layette and gifts.
The use of larger in-store imagery, enhanced visuals and displays, updated lighting and new fixtures and tables helps make for a more contemporary environment in both locations. But perhaps the key element is the enhanced fitting rooms, which are about 30% to 40% larger than traditional fitting rooms and temperature friendly, with extra air conditioning.
“Comfort is very critical to this customer,” Nisch added.
In a unique twist, the fitting rooms in both locations are in the center of the space, rather than off by themselves in the rear.
“The placement changes the shopping experience, and helps to reinforce the idea that this is a high-service environment,” Nisch said.
Featuring upholstered seating, accent lighting and mirrors with lighting that can be adjusted to simulate different environments, the fitting rooms have a level of visual merchandising akin to an upscale department store. The same is true for the stores’ mannequins, which are shown in conversation groupings, runway formats or as shelf accents.
Adjacent to the fitting room area is a lounge area with a flat screen TV, comfortable seating and a play space for children. Both locations also have a beauty bar that provides customized skincare consultations.
The materials and color palette is warm, with a soft mix of warm grays and taupe, and accent fixtures in wenge woods and gray tones. The palette is carried over in the floor finishes (ceramic or porcelain in Paramus, and vinyl wood in Virginia Beach).
LAYOUTS: At 7,700 sq. ft., the Paramus location is the larger of the two and is a remodel project. It has a “town square” format, with the fitting rooms and cashwrap and other related functions located in a central service hub, evoking a communal vibe. A wall of framed black-and-white baby photos accents the wall behind the checkout.
The Paramus superstore also has a learning studio, separated from the selling space by draped windows, that offers a variety of fitness and educational classes.
The all-new 5,000-sq.-ft. Virginia Beach location has a “discovery” floor plan that is less directed and features fewer straight lines compared with the standard racetrack layout. The layout sets customers on a pathway to explore the store.
Destination Maternity said it plans to use both of its new locations as “lab stores” where it can test adjacencies, shop formats, visual statements, customer service enhancements and new paths of navigation.
“As always, our underlying message that a customer doesn’t have to give up her personal style when she’s expecting shines through in both formats,” said Chris Daniel, president, Destination Maternity.