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Light Levels Up, Costs Down


Energy-efficient lighting is paying off big time for Limited Brands—and not just in the stores. The apparel specialty chain expects to realize an annualized energy and maintenance cost savings of about $775,000 as a result of a comprehensive lighting retrofit of its five distribution centers. The facilities are located at its headquarters campus in Columbus, Ohio.

The retrofit, which involved 3.5 million sq. ft. of facilities, used T5 lamps from GE Consumer & Industrial (GE T5 High-Output Starcoat Ecolux), along with TCLP-compliant 2-ft. and 3-ft.T8 lamps (GE Watt-Miser) in both 28 watts and 23 watts, and T8 ballasts (GE Ultramax). The facilities previously used less efficient fluorescent lamps and incandescent sources.

Additionally, the fixtures are equipped with motion sensors so the lamps operate only when there is activity in the area.

“We’re constantly examining new strategies for enhancing the efficiency of our lighting,” said Ronald T. Rau, VP stores and facilities maintenance, Limited Brands, which operates 3,015 specialty stores under several banners. “With this project, and others under way now, we’re doing more than just trimming electricity bills. We’re contributing to sustainability initiatives while improving the work environment of associates.”

As a result of the retrofit, which reduced lighting-related energy consumption in the five centers by 50%, Limited Brands is expected to achieve an annual savings of $650,000 in energy costs and $125,000 in maintenance expenditures.

“Limited Brands extended its re-lamp cycles with lighting choices such as the new T8 lamps, which offer a 24,000-hour rated life at 12 hours per start,” said Mary Beth Gotti, manager of the GE Lighting & Electrical Institute, GE Consumer & Industrial. “The company saves energy while also minimizing disruptions to workflows in busy distribution centers.”

The cost-saving calculations for the new lighting were based on an audit of existing equipment, the published input wattages, an agreed upon kWh rate and operating hours of both the before and after lighting products. The cited maintenance savings for the lamp and ballast replacements are based on the published, anticipated failure of the existing system and operating hours.

In another plus, the new lighting has dramatically increased light levels in the facilities, with some areas up to four times brighter. Indeed, an improved working environment for associates, along with benefit to the environment and overall cost savings, were identified by Limited Brands as the biggest advantages of the new lighting.

“Associates working in the distribution centers say that the brighter lighting makes it easier to perform tasks,” Rau said. “They’ve reported that the work area feels cleaner and that seeing barcoded vendor information more clearly seems to be enhancing productivity. Associates also say they feel good about the environmental benefit inherent in energy-efficient lighting.”

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