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Walmart's first LED-lit store opens in Stratford

The retailer used some 3,000 LED fixtures in the outlet and plans on changing the lighting in six stores next year

The opening of Walmart Canada’s first fully LED-lit store here sets the stage for a wider roll-out of the energy-saving lighting program at its other retail stores in 2014.

At the 88,000 square-foot Stratford store, which opened Nov. 29, Walmart installed almost 3,000 18-watt LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures instead of 25-watt fluorescent tubes.

Though more expensive than traditional lighting, LED lights typically last longer, generate less heat, are mercury free and fully recyclable.

As a result, Walmart estimates it can reduce energy consumption at the Stratford store by 189,000 kilowatt hours a year compared to conventional fluorescent tubes, saving $18,000 a year.

“The more we can make the building work for us, the more we can make our processes work and pass those savings along to our customers,” said Jim Thompson (photo above), executive vice-president of real estate and store development for Walmart Canada, who led a media tour of the new store the day before its opening.

“The store will be a lot more efficient to cool in the summertime because these lamps don’t give off heat and it will be a lot easier to keep the store cool for customers and associates.”

In 2012, with supplier Canadian EcoLight LED Systems Corp., Walmart ran a pilot LED project at its Brampton store to retrofit the sales floor with LED fixtures. Walmart now plans to change the lighting at six existing Ontario stores by March, 2014, using even more efficient 15-watt LED tubes.

In an additional cost saving for the coming retrofit, EcoLight plans one ballast for every four tubes instead of one. “We can save on installation time, efficiency and give the customer a better-quality product,” said Jim West, director of North American sales for EcoLight. His company believes Walmart is the first major Canadian retailer to open a fully LED-lit store.

Non-glare LED lighting offer other benefits, says Thompson. “Our merchandise looks better under LED lighting,” he said. “Associates told us in Brampton that working in the story with this kind of lighting is so much easier for the eyes.”

Walmart’s next new store opens in January with conventional lighting. While offering no timetable, Thompson said the retailer hopes to introduce LED in all its 382 locations in Canada over time.

“Broadly speaking, we are committed to it,” he said. Already one of the largest commercial purchasers of green power, Walmart aims to become sustainable over time using 100 per cent renewable energy, creating zero waste and selling environmentally-conscious products.

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