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Retailers Told to Light Up-in an Eco-Friendly Way

Posted 23-NOV-07

Wal-Mart and Bill Clinton want to shine a light on better ways to illuminate a store. It’s part of a wave to find more–environmentally friendly ways of lighting up a space. By 2009, tighter energy efficiency also might become law in California.

On Nov. 1, Wal-Mart announced at a meeting of U.S. mayors in Seattle that it would partner with the former president’s Clinton Climate Initiative to help identify green technologies and to bring down the price of eco-friendly products such as energy-efficient building materials and lighting systems.

Currently, efficient lighting can be expensive. LED bulbs and strip lights can cost $60 to $100, compared with the $1 to $34 cost for incandescent lamps, according to Jordon Papanier, a spokesperson for Torrance, Calif.–based Ledtronics, a leading producer of LED lights. Yet, Papanier said LED lights have a longer life than an average bulb and can offer 70 percent to 80 percent energy savings.

In Sacramento, Calif., state lawmakers are revising California’s energy-efficiency standards for residential and nonresidential buildings. The law’s Title 24 Part 6 section might make energy efficiency a requirement for new and retrofitted buildings. It should take effect by 2009, and it means that buildings finishing construction and those buildings being remodeled must use an even more energy-efficient lighting system than those required today.

The California law does not tell retailers what sort of brands of lighting to install in their new or remodeled buildings. However, lighting consultant Kathleen Peake said retailers often use LED lights for their outdoor or sign lighting.

Some retailers have converted their already-efficient T-8 and electronic-ballast lighting systems into second- generation T-8 and electronic-ballast lighting systems, which can cut energy bills by an extra 20 percent, Peake said.

Fashion boutiques often use halogen infrared reflecting lamps for accent lighting with an energy-efficient touch. Peake is president of The Lighting Collaborative Inc., a Tustin, Calif.–based lighting education group and a consultant for Southern California Edison.

The energy savings could be an important point for retailers. According to Minnesota-based consultants The Design Group, a typical retailer can spend up to $300,000 on lighting bills, which may be 10 percent of typical construction costs.

Many retailers have begun to look to natural light to expand their energy efficiency. Buildings at The Lab and The Camp specialty shopping centers in Costa Mesa, Calif., were designed to emphasize windows so the retailers could make extra use of natural sunlight to illuminate their stores.

The Road Less Traveled store in Santa Ana, Calif., uses a system from Vista, Calif.–based Solatube International Inc. It captures sunlight from a building’s roof and redirects the light down a reflective shaft to the store. The Road owner Delilah Snell said the Solatube Daylighting System has allowed her to rely more on daylight than electricity. The retail price for the system starts at $300, according to a Solatube representative.

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