It's Time for Retailers to Retrofit Lighting for Big Energy Savings
By Josh Hathaway
When visiting a retail store, customers are looking for a pleasant shopping experience. They want to look vibrant in the clothing and cosmetics sections, they want the produce to look fresh and delicious, and they want to be able to find what they are looking for.
Lighting products attractively and ensuring customers can find the products they are looking for are critical to increased sales for the retailer. For many years, retail stores have relied on electric lighting, oftentimes over-lighting products and unintentionally making the products difficult to see due to the poor quality of the light.
Retail stores are big energy users, consuming nearly 20 percent of all energy used by U.S. commercial buildings. In a typical retail store, electric lighting accounts for 22 percent of total building energy use. Lighting retrofits can save upwards of 30 to 50 percent of lighting energy as well as 10 to 20 percent of cooling energy. Intelligent controls with sensors at each fixture can see even greater savings.
Retrofitting box retail stores, with their expansive floors and open plans, has the potential to reduce lighting and cooling costs dramatically across their entire portfolio. Big box stores are often easily daylit with simple skylights, an inexpensive and effective solution.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Providing daylighting can meet customers’ needs while saving energy and improving the appearance of the store—the store feels brighter, customers can more easily evaluate products, and products are perceived as more attractive, often increasing product sales for the retailers.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy worked with Whole Foods to find real solutions to energy efficiency in its stores. The goal was to not only achieve a high-performance building but to analyze and test solutions that could be replicated in other stores. The store in Raleigh, North Carolina, achieved total energy savings of 25 percent over a baseline store and almost 50 percent savings in lighting energy.
Timing is the key to more and better daylighting
So why aren’t more retail big box chains adding daylighting into their stores? The opportunity for energy savings from a lighting retrofit may appear to be significant but it is often unclear when to intervene to make the retrofit cost effective. A single expenditure that is not coordinated with other improvements can be costly and have an unacceptable payback period. Right-timing and planning can address these concerns and make a deep energy retrofit not only possible but also profitable.
Timing a lighting retrofit with major planned capital investments such as a roof replacement, equipment replacement, and non-energy-related renovations such as branding upgrades is critical to realizing maximum energy savings without leaving efficiency opportunities on the table. When a roof replacement or a branding upgrade is being considered, redesigning the electric lighting layout and adding skylights makes sense. With these major investments already happening, costs associated with moving around lighting fixtures and cutting holes in the roof can be minimized.
Re-designing electric lighting layout with lighter interior finishes to accommodate a larger spacing between fixtures and acceptable target illumination levels can also reduce the amount of fixtures that need replacing and lower yearly maintenance costs. Current energy codes allow for 1.6 watts per square foot for retail environments and industry standards such as ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC recommend 1.4 watts per square foot, but finding a balanced approach by lowering illumination values by 25 percent and energy use by 25–40 percent will optimize the lighting and energy conditions. Adding skylights can further reduce this energy use from electric lighting by installing controls to turn electric lights off during daylit hours and unoccupied times.
Many retailers are now retrofitting their stores for efficiency to meet energy targets or goals. Walgreens recently installed high-performance skylights and replaced their fixtures with LEDs in a pilot project in Arizona to meet targets of the Better Buildings Challenge. The store is anticipating 43 percent energy and maintenance savings from electric lighting energy use with these measures alone.
Timing a retrofit with mechanical upgrades or equipment replacement can have significant savings if other efficiency measures are also considered during this time. Considering reducing loads associated with envelope, plug loads, and electric lighting can significantly reduce the size of the equipment needed or could eliminate a component of mechanical equipment, avoiding capital costs that would otherwise be invested in the mechanical system upgrade. These savings can in turn be used to pay for other efficiency measures such as envelope insulation or adding skylights. When mechanical systems are being replaced, raising ceilings can reduce the amount of skylights needed to meet illumination levels (often about 4 percent of floor area) and eliminates the cost of replacing the dropped ceiling.
Understanding the synergies between building systems and planning ahead for energy efficiency interventions will guarantee that opportunities are not left on the table and that maximum efficiency of a building can still be achieved in the future. In the competitive retail world, adding daylight may offer the critical business advantage retail stores need.
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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