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Sainsbury's and Current in LED first

Current, powered by GE, is helping the retailer cut energy consumption by well over half


250,000 new LED fixtures will cut Sainsbury’s lighting energy consumption by 58 per cent
250,000 new LED fixtures will cut Sainsbury’s lighting energy consumption by 58 per cent

Sainsbury’s supermarkets have become the first in the UK to switch to 100 per cent LED lighting. It is partnering with Current, powered by GE, on the lighting upgrade which will cover more than 450 stores by 2020. It claims the move will cut energy consumption by 58 per cent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.4 percent annually.


The project will support Sainsbury’s on its journey to achieve commitments set out in the supermarket’s sustainability plan, which calls for Sainsbury’s to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 30 per cent compared to 2005 baseline levels.


The target has spurred numerous energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives across its many UK stores, from LED retrofits to solar panels, biomass boilers and ground source heat pumps. To date, Sainsbury’s has already cut absolute carbon emissions by more than 20 per cent and is on track to achieve its 2020 target.


“We’re always looking for new ways of achieving our sustainability goals, and switching to LED lighting is a big step in the right direction,” said Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, energy, engineering and environment. “We’ve almost halved the carbon emissions of our stores since 2005, and in the last 12 months reduced our electricity use by 11.6 per cent despite growing our operation by 54.2 per cent.


“This step will enable us to make significant reductions in carbon emissions. Our customers expect us to do the right thing on their behalf, and they can be reassured that, day or night, when they visit a Sainsbury’s supermarket, we’ve made a significant in-road into creating a greener supermarket for them.”


James Fleet, head of retail specification, GE Lighting, told SmartCitiesWorld that other retailers are likely to follow Sainsbury’s lead. “Whether grocery, fashion, cosmetics or one of the other sub-verticals, many of these retailers have published big sustainability commitments, typically seven or 10 years ago and they tended to be based around 2020 vision,” he says. “So I think we will see others follow and the commercial accessibility of LED allows them to drive forward with these plans.”


The part played by major retailers is key when it comes to reducing the country and cities’ overall emissions. Fleet added: “To put it in perspective, Sainsbury’s consumes one per cent of all electricity consumed in the UK so clearly retailers have an absolute duty to be doing what they can to cut emissions as it has an impact on the UK in its entirety.”


Current is delivering the lighting retrofit as a turnkey service, embedding financing with lighting design, product supply, installation and project management services. The full LED conversion across all Sainsbury’s stores is scheduled to be completed by 2020. The retrofit, which has been more than a year in the planning, also opens the door to future digital collaborations between the two companies.


Central to the project is Predix, Current’s Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform. Pete Lau, CEO of Current’s European operations, told SmartCitiesWorld that Current likes to think of itself as the "digital engine" for intelligent environments. “We have a really strong platform in Predix which helps gain insight into businesses, cities or manufacturing facilities, and even shopper experience, and that platform is open so organisations can build IIoT apps that help deliver savings to the bottom line.”


Speaking generally, he added that the demonstrable savings that LED lighting or other energy-efficiency programmes brings is also helping to pave the way for funding for other smart infrastructure projects such as the aggregation of energy management or buildings management across several stores or intelligent environments.


Current’s ability to offer finance for such projects via GE Capital is also helping organisations to progress their broader smart aspirations. “We’re able to offer embedded finance structures at attractive rates which makes installation of energy efficiency technology a little bit easier,” he says. “And because you can get cashflow positive, often on the first day, it opens up the ability to say, ‘OK, we’ll use the rest of our money to take a chance on the intelligent environment’.”


“What is interesting right now is that energy-efficiency is a proven concept that adds money to the bottom line and can be measured through meters. People understand there’s value to be had in the IoT and smart world but actually dollarising that because it’s so new can be difficult. So, using energy efficient products to fund tests and pilots and entry into the smart world is a big trend and the financing plays a huge part in that.”


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