Discount Drug Mart Brightens Shopping Experience with GE’s Energy-Saving T8 Linear Fluorescent Lamps

CLEVELAND, Ohio — (NYSE: GE)  More than half of the 67 stores operated by Medina, Ohio-based Discount Drug Mart, Inc. — 37 stores to date — have completed lighting retrofits that the retailer expects will deliver a combined energy and maintenance cost savings equal to the margin earned on $14.2 million in sales over the life of the new lamps. The main prescription for better, more efficient lighting involves a shift from 8-foot T12 linear fluorescent lamps and electromagnetic ballasts to energy-saving F32T8/SPX41 ECO 32-watt 4-foot T8 linear fluorescent lamps and GE ProLine® high-performance electronic ballasts from GE Appliances & Lighting.

United Resource Group (URG), a Cleveland-area energy services company, helped Drug Mart and John Wright, its co-chief operating officer, examine how to best attack the inefficiencies of its store lighting schemes. The installation involves overhead lighting in sales, office and storage areas — an average of 320 fixtures in each 25,000 square-foot store. “We had a lot of conversations at the outset about whether the savings were there,” says George Kennedy, URG’s founder and president. “They were leaving a lot of light on the ceiling with the existing T12 system. In the end, they felt the payback represented a great investment.”

A 10-fixture test at the Drug Mart in Avon Lake, Ohio, sealed the deal. “Our store manager noticed right away that he liked the new versus old lighting,” recounts Drug Mart’s Wright. “We initiated this project with a primary focus on improving operational efficiency,” he adds. “We have completed it with the additional satisfaction of having improved the quality of light in our stores. That means we’ve improved the customer experience, and perhaps set ourselves apart from competitors.”

One measure of light quality is the color-rendering index (CRI). In general, the higher the CRI, the better the light source is at rendering colors (most incandescent light sources have a CRI of about 100). “The 86 CRI rating of the new T8 lamps is a vast improvement over the 65 CRI the old T12 lamps provided,” reports Mary Beth Gotti, director of the GE Lighting & Electrical Institute, a teaching facility operated for more than four decades by GE at its Nela Park campus. “The importance of CRI ratings,” she says, “ is even more pronounced when retail stores can’t benefit extensively from available natural daylight. They need high-quality lighting to set the stage for customers.”

The stores’ new GE T8 fluorescent lamp-electronic ballast systems deliver about 30 percent in energy savings compared with the previous system — over $560,000 per year across the 37 retrofitted stores, for the life of the lamps. Drug Mart expects to see significant maintenance savings, too, because of longer lamp life. Wright says the chain plans to pursue over $540,000 in EPAct tax deductions that it earns as a result of its move to more energy-efficient lighting.

URG’s effort to gut and re-build the existing T12 fixtures to work better and accommodate the T8 lamp-ballast system included the addition of reflectors that bring more light down from the ceiling onto the products. Kennedy says the new system’s light output, measured in lumens, improved between 8 and 10 percent.

Drug Mart also updated the lamps used in check-stand light pole fixtures, replacing 60-watt incandescent lamps with 13-watt compact fluorescent lamps.

Discount Drug Mart, an Ohio-owned and operated retail drug chain, currently has 67 stores in over 20 Ohio counties including Dayton and Columbus. The 25,000+ square foot stores stock more than 40,000 items ranging from a full service pharmacy and extended home health care department to groceries and seasonal merchandise. Low prices, outstanding customer service and broad based product lines are at the heart of Drug Mart's growth and success. The company slogan says it all: "Discount Drug Mart Saves You the Runaround...We Have Everything You Need." Discount Drug Mart takes pride in its customer service, quality products and low discount pricing. Equally important are the company's charitable, community and education related fund raising activities, along with the fact that they serve the health needs of their communities 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Learn more at www.discount-drugmart.com.

United Resource is an old-line energy conservation firm that has been turning customer savings potential into profit since 1980. The conservation focus has included HVAC and a strong concentration in lighting for 250 customers in over 7,000 buildings, including the two largest State Office Buildings in Ohio and Federal Buildings in Chicago, 19 Army Bases located between Atlanta and San Francisco, 19 School Districts, 9 Retail Chains and numerous other commercial facilities. Learn more at www.urgenergy.com.