One of America’s favorite stores is shedding new light on sustainability. Home furnishings company Crate and Barrel has long had a robust recycling program, and now stores, corporate officers, and warehouses are being retrofitted with new energy-saving systems—primarily in the lighting arena—to further the company’s sustainability goals.
The initiatives started just over three years ago, in part to relieve the high energy loads stores generated from incandescent track lighting systems. “We had incredible electric loads and HVAC loads to compensate for all the lighting,” says Anthony Garippo, vice president of architecture and construction at Crate and Barrel. “The heat load generated in the store by the lights made it barely necessary to use heat in the system because there was so much.”
Although new construction implements 18-watt LED track lighting from progressive companies like Juno Lighting Group, Crate & Barrel also aims to update most of its stores in the United States and Canada within the next three years (and will soon move to even more efficient 12-watt bulbs). To date, energy costs have been reduced by about 20 percent, Garippo says, and, as a result, HVAC loads have been approximately cut in half.
With more than 100 stores in Crate and Barrel’s portfolio, change happens gradually, but the company makes improvements with every new store. For example, when the location in Carrefour Laval, just outside of Montreal, opened in 2012, new lighting and HVAC controls were added to better regulate the store—in addition to the new track lighting.
Lighting systems have been tweaked in the back-of-house operations at warehouses and distribution centers as well. One-thousand-watt bulbs are being replaced with more efficient 400-watt ones, and the lights that line warehouse aisles illuminate on a sensor system, activated only by nearby activity.
Emilio Nini, a director at Sajo, which handled the full interior fit-out at the Carrefour Laval location of Crate and Barrel, believes the company’s efforts to be more sustainable are commendable. “We all know the [energy-efficient] materials cost more, initially. But in the long term, it does end up costing less with the ongoing operations,” he says. “[Crate and Barrel] are the leaders when it comes to efficiency.”
Since activating its sustainability plans, Crate and Barrel has achieved LEED certification at five locations, an achievement that Garippo calls an honor but not the driving reason behind the company’s change. “In our minds, we are doing it anyway,” he says. “But it’s nice to get that pat on the back.”