Walmart Sees the Light for Parking Lots

November 9, 2011

By Roland Risser, Program Manager, Building Technologies Program

I don't think about parking lots often. Hot in the summer and jammed with frantic shoppers during holidays, I try to spend as little time in them as possible. But because my passion is energy efficiency, I have recently thought a lot about how much it costs to illuminate these spaces and how much energy could be saved with updated lighting systems.

Business owners have long recognized the potential of light-emitting diode (LED) technology to save energy, reduce maintenance costs and improve environmental sustainability. We wanted to take LEDs to the next level by validating the energy and cost-savings potential for LED lighting in retail parking lots and for wide-scale adoption.

The experts in my DOE program, Building Technologies, collaborated with members of the Retailer Energy Alliance to take on this challenge. The LED Site Lighting Specification, a set of criteria retailers can follow to select energy saving and reliable LED parking lot lighting, came from that partnership.

The specification provides information about luminaires (or light fixtures), their performance, and how a site should be lighted to optimize performance. The specification addresses business aspects such as aesthetics, branding and customer safety. It also recognizes the potential risks businesses face in adopting new technologies by requiring a five-year minimum warranty for LED luminaires.

We were faced with a question: Was the market ready to adopt LEDs on a large scale? One of our commercial partners, Walmart, responded with a resounding "yes." See the Energy Blog post.