Walmart plans major LED transition in supercenter lighting globally

April 9, 2014
GE Lighting will supply a variety of SSL fixtures, including the Lumination IS Series for ceiling lighting, for Walmart supercenter stores in the US, Asia, the UK, and Latin America.

Retailer Walmart has a goal to reduce the power it uses per square foot of floor space by 20% before the year 2020. Moving to reach the goal, the company has announced that it will install new LED lighting in many of its largest supercenter stores across the US, Asia, the UK, and Latin America. GE Lighting will supply a variety of solid-state lighting (SSL) fixtures for the initiative, including the Lumination IS Series for the ceiling lighting that is the largest energy consumer in a supercenter store.

Indeed, Walmart said that the lighting for the main sales floor in a store accounts for 90% of the total energy used in the building. The retailer has already had relatively efficient fluorescent lighting in many stores, including state-of-the-art T5 fluorescent technology in some instances. Still, GE says the Lumination IS Series uses less energy than the best fluorescent products, and the savings from the transition will range from 15-60% based on the legacy lighting installed in stores in different regions.

Walmart and LEDs

"LEDs have become an integral part of our energy-efficiency model for our stores and play a key role in achieving our overall sustainability goals," said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "Just as important, the energy cost savings coming from these innovations will help us maintain the low prices our customers depend on us to provide."

GE and Walmart have a long history partnering on LED lighting projects with GE supplying LED-based freezer case lights to the retailer starting in 2005. Walmart was also a pioneer of LED use in parking lots, working with the US Department of Energy on a project back in 2009.

More recently, Walmart and GE worked together on LED lighting for the first all-LED-lit supercenter that opened last October in South Euclid, Ohio. That project validated the performance of the Lumination IS products for ceiling lighting. "We have worked to find and scale energy-efficient LED lighting solutions that are cost effective and high quality, and now working with GE, we're paving the way to make this a mainstream solution for the retail industry," added McMillon.

GE formally introduced the Lumination IS Series this past January. The linear pendant design is intended to provide an indirect lighting effect for ambient needs by directing light from an LED light engine into linear reflectors.

Roll-out plans

The installation of supercenter lighting will begin this month in the Asda-branded stores that Walmart operates in the US. The initial plans will include 10 new stores in the UK, 30 new stores in the US, 37 new stores in Mexico, 24 new stores and 16 store retrofit projects in China, 10 new stores in Central America, and 30 store retrofit projects in Brazil.

The US projects will serve as a baseline for energy efficiency due to the fact that the typical US Walmart supercenter has relatively efficient fluorescent lighting. Indeed, the partners project savings in the US to be in the 15% range. Still, the actual savings are a staggering 340,000 kWh annually per store, or $34,000 at $10.13/kWh. In other regions the savings will fall in the 40-60% range. And all of the regions will benefit from maintenance savings.

"We've had a long and successful relationship with Walmart, increasing our environmental efforts together," said Jeff Immelt, GE chairman and CEO. "A leader in seeking energy efficiency in the retail industry, Walmart's energy-conscious focus allows the company to attain a substantial cost savings in electricity. We value our longstanding relationship with Walmart and are proud to work with them in reducing their environmental impact."