Exchange Puts Human Energy into Conserving Electricity, Water

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October is Energy Action Month, which promotes energy efficiency and smart use of resources. But the Exchange’s energy-saving actions aren’t limited to one month a year.

Every Exchange project is energy efficient.

“The majority of the time when we upgrade or renovate a store, we upgrade the lighting to new LED fixtures,” said Brian Lally, the Exchange’s corporate energy program manager. “We’ve done a good job in creating lighting efficiencies in distribution centers too.”

One of the Exchange’s strategic priorities for 2021 is replacing fluorescent lights with tubular LEDs, or T-LEDs, that will provide energy savings and lower carbon emissions. Lally said the Exchange is working to update 600,000 fluorescent lights to T-LEDs.

“We’re going to do this in more than 180 locations and almost 800 buildings in CONUS and get an enormous energy savings with this one project,” Lally said. “We expect to save somewhere in the vicinity of 54 million kilowatt hours and it will save the Exchange about $4 million a year in electricity charges.”

The LEDs will also provide uniform light levels and colors, which will improve the shopping experience. LEDs have a longer lifespan, meaning that thousands of associate hours will be saved on light replacement. Because LEDs produce less heat, cooling costs are reduced in the summer.

“From my perspective, the T-LED project is the most surefire value lever initiative we have in the organization,” said Mike Smietana, the Exchange’s senior vice president for Real Estate.

“Technology has evolved to the point where these bulbs are now ‘plug and play,’ which will benefit the Exchange in the form of reduced utility cost, the Services with lowered consumption, and customers with improved, consistent light levels in all our stores.  It’s a true ‘win-win-win’ for all, with an outstanding return on investment.”

There have been cost-savings measures behind the scenes as well, such as a three-year contract with a new electrical supplier that began in January 2021 and that will save the Exchange 1 penny per kilowatt hour.

“That might not seem like much,” Lally said. “But if we use the same amount of energy we’re using now over the next three years, projections are we will save something like $400,000 to $450,000 a year because of that one penny.”

Some energy conservation has happened organically, such as at headquarters, where the majority of office workers have been working remotely during the pandemic. Because fewer people are regularly at HQ, the Exchange hasn’t had to use as much energy as usual to heat or cool the buildings, and has saved money because less lighting is being used.

The Exchange is also looking for ways to conserve water as well. Low-flow faucets are installed in all new and renovated buildings, along with automated faucet systems. The Exchange also installs low-volume, water-efficient toilets, Lally said.

He added that associates can do a lot to help.

“We’ve asked our team to look for leaking faucets,” Lally said. “Take a walk into restroom facility to see if there are any leaks. Most people react to that: If there’s a leaky faucet, they’ll notify the installation to come out and fix it in a reasonable period of time.”

Most of the Exchange’s water consumption comes from food courts, Lally said. Low-flow systems have been installed in food courts when possible.

Maintaining electronic doors to make sure that they close properly is another measure stores can take. And associates can do their part to conserve electricity.

“When a store closes for the day, I know they’re still stocking shelves and cleaning and doing things that make store nice for the next day,” Lally said. “But if there’s an area where the store doesn’t need lighting, shut it off.”

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1 Comment

  1. Steven Reid on October 7, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Kudos on the sustained efforts to conserve resources!

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