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Retrofit Delivers Savings


Discount Drug Mart is undergoing a lighting retrofit that the chain expects will deliver a significant combined energy and maintenance cost savings. The Medina, Ohio-based drug store chain has switched from 8-ft. T12 linear fluorescent lamps and electromagnetic ballasts to a more energy-efficient T8 lamp and electronic ballast system. The retrofit has been completed in 37 of Drug Mart’s 67 stores to date.

The installation involves the overhead lighting in the stores’ sales, office and storage areas, with an average of 320 fixtures in each store (the chain averages 25,000 sq. ft. per location).

Prior to undertaking the project, Drug Mart and United Resource Group, an energy-services company, reviewed the stores’ lighting and how best to attack its inefficiencies.

“They were leaving a lot of light on the ceiling with the existing T12 system,” said George Kennedy, president, URG, Cleveland.

The retailer and URG had numerous discussions over the savings associated with the proposed retrofit, which called for 32-watt 4-ft. T8 linear fluorescent lamps from GE Consumer & Industrial (its ECO model) along with GE ProLine high-performance electronic ballasts.

“In the end, they felt the payback represented a great investment,” Kennedy said.

A 10-fixture test at a Drug Mart location sealed the deal.

“Our store manager noticed right away that he liked the new lighting vs. the old,” said John Wright, co-chief operating officer, Discount Drug Mart.

As part of the retrofit, URG gutted and re-built the existing T12 fixtures to work better and accommodate the new lamp-ballast system. It added reflectors that bring more light down from the ceiling to the merchandise on display. According to URG’s Kennedy, the new system’s light output in lumens improved from 8% to 10%.

The new T8 fluorescent lamp electronic ballast systems deliver about 30% in energy savings compared to the previous system, which translates into more than $560,000 annually across the 37 retrofitted stores. The retailer also expects to realize maintenance savings due to longer lamp life. On top of the savings, Drug Mart plans to pursue some $540,000 in EPAct tax deductions that it earned as a result of its move to more energy-efficient lighting.

In another benefit, the new lighting system is better at rendering colors. The GE T8 lamps have an 86 color rendering index (CRI), compared to the 65 CRI provided by the T12 lamps. The improved CRI is especially pronounced in retail stores that can’t benefit extensively from available natural daylight.

“We initiated this project with a primary focus on improving operational efficiency,” Wright said. “But we completed it with the additional satisfaction of having improved the quality of light in our stores.”

Along with its sales-floor lighting, Drug Mart also updated the lamps in its check-stand light-pole fixtures, replacing 60-watt incandescent lamps with 13-watt compact fluorescent lamps.

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