Starbucks Scores Millions on LED Install

It has been pretty hard not tonotice, but we are passing through a lighting revolution and this mass refit atStarbucks is effectively the beginning of the last phase of thatrevolution.  Full spectrum LED lighting becamepossible two years ago and it is now the practical replacement for allinstalled lighting.

This shows that mass retail isabout to happen.

Getting lighting changed out hasbeen a decades long development objective and it was the low hanging fruit whenit came to consumer power usage.  A fewfixes with household heating are in order but we can easily live in an energyefficient home today.

Perfection now entails properinsulation to minimize energy usage for heating and cooling.

How Starbucks Saves Millions a Year in Energy with LED Lighting

By Claudia Girrbach
Published December 02, 2010

Starbucks recently finished replacing nearly all of its incandescentand halogen lighting with LEDs during a two-year roll-out to over 7,000company-owned stores, most in the United Statesand Canada, but with some inEurope and Asia. This is the largestdeployment yet of LED technology in an application that is very sensitive tothe quality of light; Starbucks' success proves that the new digital lightingis ready for mass install.

Jim Hanna, Director of Environmental Impact for Starbucks confirmedthat the LED lighting program is on target to slash consumption by more than 80percent compared to existing lighting. My back-of-the envelope calculations[see notes below] found that

• Each LED light bulb saves approximately $30 annually in energy costsand eliminates the equivalent CO2 as half a barrel of oil;

• Each 1,000 square foot store on average would save nearly $600annually and eliminate the equivalent CO2 as 10 barrels of oil

To capture these impressive benefits, for both the bottom-line and theenvironment, it took more than replacing a light bulb. When Starbucks wasexamining which energy efficiency projects to deploy in its stores, lightingwas an obvious choice, since retailers consume a large amount of energy onlighting to provide ambiance and to showcase products.

But Starbucks had already installed energy-efficient fluorescents inmany areas of its stores. The remaining halogen and incandescent lights were inits beverage and sitting areas. The soft, warm light provided by incandescentbulbs was critical to creating an inviting experience. And halogens were usedto highlight products. Fluorescent was a poor fit in these areas due to itsinferior color rendition. Although CFLs are prevalent in offices, older andinefficient lighting technology is common in many retail and other high-endapplications.

Starbucks investigated LED lights and appreciated the low energy useand the quality of light, but LED products on the market at the time requiredreplacing both the light bulb and fixture driving costs up considerably.

Rather than wait for the price of technology to drop, Starbucks reachedout to its partner, General Electric. Hanna said, "GE worked with us todevelop a LED light bulb that provides similar output as incandescent but usesa fraction of the electricity. GE kept retrofit costs low by designing a bulbthat could fit the track lighting and recessed cans that were alreadyinstalled."

The roll-out after initial trials proceeded smoothly. It is too earlyto confirm the LED longevity, but Starbucks is confident in its approach. Hannaexplained, "The GE partnership reduces the risk of new technology shouldissues surface." The Starbucks case study illustrates that emergingtechnology can provide significant savings and is worth the extra effort tomake new technology work for your requirements.

Hanna agrees with the U.S.Department of Energy assessment that "LED usage will accelerate … since …no other lighting technology offers as much potential to save energy andenhance the quality of our building environments." Starbucks achieved anotable LED milestone, but that's one record that Starbucks is happy to seebeaten. Will your facilities be the next LED winner?


I did some calculations after my discussions with Jim Hanna to estimatejust how much money Starbucks is saving due to its LED retrofit. Here's what Ifound:

• A new LED bulb requires 7 to 10 watts, depending on light output. Itreplaces 50 to 60 watt bulbs, either incandescent or halogen. [Source:Starbucks interview]

• Common practice in retail is to leave some lighting on 24/7 forsecurity and advertising. For this calculation it was assumed that one-third oflighting remains on 24/7, while the rest of the bulbs were lit during operatinghours. [Source: Author visits to several stores]

• According to the U.S.Energy Information Administration, the average cost of electricity in 2010 inthe 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.

• The savings estimate did not consider reduced maintenance which giventhe exceptionally long life of LED would increase savings and acceleratepayback. • Carbon savings were estimated using the EPA's Clean Energycalculator.

• About 50 percent of the retail square footage is lit by LED, theother portion of the store is lit by CFL. [Source: Starbucks interview]

• 258,000 green bulbs were deployed in US and Canada to date(both LED and CFL bulbs) [Source: Starbucks interview]

• Company owned stores used 6.8 KWH / square foot / month on average in2008 prior to LED deployment. [Source: Starbucks CSR 2009 Report] [PDF]

• The new LED lights reduced total store energy consumption by 7percent when compared to the baseline. [Source: Starbucks interview]

LED photo CC-licensed by Velo Steve.

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