LED Guidelines Spark Walmart Parking Lot Project

June 16, 2014 By Leon Walker

walmartGuidelines and information for LED siting and use published by the Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office in consultation with members of the Retailer Energy Alliance and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory proved the catalyst for Walmart to adopt wide-scale LED use in its parking lots.

The LED Site Lighting Specification provides information about both luminaire performance and how the site should be lighted. For instance, the specification outlines how lighting needs vary across the different parts of the parking lot. The specification optimizes the performance of sites, satisfying more than pure lighting needs. Business concerns such as site aesthetics, branding, and customer safety also come into play, the DOE says.

Prior to the creation of the specification, Walmart had proceeded with caution in its US operations because of questions about the long-term cost and reliability of LEDs in the domestic market. However, the specification’s emphasis on LED reliability and effective site design, combined with dropping prices for LED luminaires, changed the game for Walmart’s leadership: It was the right time to invest in a demonstration project and test the holistic approach of the specification.

In 2009, the Walmart Supercenter in Leavenworth, Kan., opened and became the first site to implement the specification. Via DOE’s Solid-State Lighting Technology Demonstration GATEWAY Program, Walmart compared the cost of a conventional HID system to a new LED system for the Kansas site. While the initial cost of the LED system was higher, the energy and maintenance costs over the expected 10-year lifecycle is much lower, making the LED system more cost effective over time. Walmart anticipates cutting maintenance costs by more than 30 percent.

As of January 2011, the organization began to incorporate LED parking lot lights into all US approved new construction sites in compliance with the specification. Since January, Walmart has planned for over 225 new sites to include LED parking lot lighting.

In terms of energy savings, Walmart expects LED parking lot lights to reduce energy needs in its parking lots by more than 50 percent, delivering average energy savings of over 125,000 kWh a year per site.

In May, Walmart made a commitment to double the number of on-site solar energy projects at its US stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers by 2020, compared to a 2013 baseline. The commitment is part of Walmart’s global initiative to drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kWh of renewable energy by the end of 2020 and to eventually be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy.

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