Shortly after launching a line of Great Value LED lightbulbs for less than $10 at all U.S. stores, Walmart announced last week that it will open its first 100 percent LED-lit store as part of the company's push for nationwide adoption of the energy-sipping bulbs. The store, located in South Euclid, Ohio, is the first of its kind to use energy-efficient LED lighting in every aspect of the store, from illuminating parking lots and building signage to the ceiling lights and all refrigerated cases in the grocery section.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and can last more than 25 times longer - meaning the new Walmart location will reap energy-saving benefits for decades to come. LEDs also produce much less heat than both incandescents and CFLs - reducing cooling costs for the store.
Walmart started transitioning its lighting to LED technology back in 2005, when it began using LED freezer case lighting to reduce energy consumption – now a retail standard. Since then, the company has incorporated LEDs into its parking lot and sales floor lighting in nearly all of its global markets.
The Ohio store incorporates a host of additional sustainable features, including a daylight harvesting system that uses sensors to adjust interior lighting to supplement natural light from skylights and windows - reducing the amount of energy used to light the sales floor by an average of 25 percent, the company said.
Reclaiming heat from on-site refrigeration equipment will supply up to 60 percent of in-store hot water needs, and new doors on refrigerated cases - currently in a testing phase at the new location - can reduce refrigeration load by 20 percent or more in cases that house deli meats, cheeses, yogurt and other perishables.
The store also boasts the most efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units available and is topped with a white membrane roof, which reduces building energy consumption compared to a darker roofing color due to higher reflectivity.
Rival retail giant Target began converting to LED-lit refrigerator and freezer cases in 2010, when it made the switch to General Electric LEDs at 500 U.S. stores. The move cut energy use for cold-case lighting by 60 percent relative to the previously used fluorescent systems, according to GE Lighting Solutions, but Target has remained relatively quiet with respect to in-store LED lighting since then.
Walmart said its Ohio store will serve as a model for future store construction. Additionally, through its Sustainability Index, Walmart is working with its suppliers to improve energy efficiency through the supply chain of various product categories, including televisions, plastic toys, small appliances and greeting cards. By working with suppliers, index energy scores have already improved by 23 percent in general merchandise categories, the company said.
Image credit: Walmart store exterior courtesy of Walmart Corporate via Flickr
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Mary also contributes to Earth911; her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.