In addition to these benefits, GE helped the operator of more than 600 convenience store/gas station locations across the Mid-Atlantic region drive down energy consumption. As a result, Wawa now enjoys combined energy and maintenance savings exceeding $1 million a year.
“In 2006 we saw our utility budget increasing between 12 and 15 percent over each of the previous five years,” explains Scott Boorse, energy and petroleum operations manager for Wawa. “In response, we created an energy group to determine where the money was going. It turned out lighting accounted for 30 percent of our electric usage. At that time we were building bigger stores with more coolers, so we started to look at ways to significantly reduce our energy consumption and found LED refrigerated display lighting a compelling answer.”
Wawa tested and evaluated three competitive LED solutions in refrigerated coolers in several of its stores beginning in 2008. One product it tested was a puck-style system that did not fully illuminate across cooler doors, producing light bands on the food packages inside. A second LED option it tested, a light bar design, experienced a 30 percent failure rate. Both products also required a longer installation time than the company desired.
Offering significant energy savings, high-quality uniform light, a long reliable service life and faster installation, GE’s Immersion RV30 LED emerged as the clear winner following Wawa’s thorough assessment.
“Immersion stood head and shoulders above the rest,” says Boorse. “Our two leading criteria were, ‘How does the light look?’ and ‘How easy is it to install?’ GE came out ahead in those categories and presented the best overall value. Our beverage and dairy products sparkled through the doors, and the colors were crisper and sharper than we’d ever seen. We could also change out a store in half the time compared to the other systems we tried.”
With the help of GE Lighting distributor Facility Solutions Group (FSG), Wawa installed 4000K Immersion LED lighting in refrigerated cooler and freezer cases in its remaining 590 locations, totaling more than 10,000 doors, throughout 2010 and 2011. GE’s 34-watt 70-inch LED light fixtures replaced 82-watt fluorescent T8 lamps including ballasts in 12 to 14 cooler doors per store, while 29-watt 60-inch LED fixtures were used in Wawa’s two-, three- or four-door freezers. Wawa measured the actual wattage for the LEDs at an even lower 33 watts and 27 watts, respectively.
Boorse added it was important not to impact Wawa’s peak sales times during the lighting retrofits. Immersion’s ease of installation ensured it was never an issue.
“With the GE product, our crews could disconnect the existing fluorescent ballast, install an LED driver and attach the light bars to the wiring that was already in the cases,” he noted. “A two to four man team could complete a store in under four hours and two stores a night in most cases. It would have taken twice that time to install the other LED lighting systems we considered.
“Not only did Immersion give us the best visual appearance to meet our brand image, we’ve also seen an immense electricity savings and shear drop in maintenance,” Boorse added. “Run times on our cooler compressor units have been reduced by two cycles per day per store. We had also anticipated two fewer service calls for cooler boxes at each store each year, when in fact, we’ve averaged four fewer calls. What’s most important is that when customers walk in there are no bulbs burnt out in the refrigerated cases. That consistent well-lit image is giving us better brand quality throughout our chain.”
According to Boorse, Wawa has reduced refrigerated cooler/freezer electricity and maintenance expense by a combined 78 percent since its adoption of GE’s Immersion LED refrigerated display lighting. Annual cost savings per store average $2,000—equating to $1.2 million across Wawa’s entire 600-store chain, including locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia. Ultimately, the company will experience project payback after only 26 to 28 months.
Wawa further maximized its energy savings by applying and qualifying for energy-efficient lighting program and utility rebates in Pennsylvania and Delaware, with an additional rebate pending in New Jersey.
“Immersion LED has become our refrigerated display lighting standard. All new construction starts with GE product in our cooler boxes,” says Boorse, adding that Wawa opens between 25 and 40 stores a year, with brand new locations planned in Orlando, Fla., this July.
“At Wawa we don’t make decisions unless there’s a clear benefit to the customer and a firm financial rationale behind it. It also has to be something that’s consistent and can be reproduced in 600 stores. For those reasons, brand reputation was also very important to us. GE was the right partner with the best solution who we knew would stand behind its product.”
For more information about this case history and to learn more about the GE Lighting products used in this project visit gelightingsolutions.com/.
About Wawa, Inc.
Wawa, Inc., a privately held company, began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th Century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, Pa, in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, due to its quality, cleanliness and “certified” process. As home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960s, Grahame Wood, George’s grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products. Today, Wawa operates more than 580 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.
About Facility Solutions Group (FSG)
Facility Solutions Group (fsgi.com) is one of the nation’s largest single-source providers of lighting and electrical products, electrical services, electrical construction, energy management solutions and signage. With a successful 29-year history of serving customers, FSG develops, designs, markets, sells and supports all types of lighting, electrical, control, sign, and energy-saving products and services.
About GE Lighting
GE Lighting (gelighting.com) invents with the vigor of its founder Thomas Edison to develop energy-efficient solutions that change the way people light their world in commercial, industrial, municipal and residential settings. The business employs over 17,000 people in more than 100 countries, and sells products under the Reveal® and Energy Smart® consumer brands, and Evolve™, GTx™, Immersion™, Infusion™, Lumination™ and Tetra® commercial brands, all trademarks of GE. General Electric (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter to build a world that works better.