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When maintenance and engineering managers with institutional and commercial facilities seek to upgrade their outdoor lighting, they are more often turning to LEDs. Staples Inc., the office supply retail giant, followed that script in 2011 when it sought to curb energy use at its corporate headquarters, a 650,000-square-foot building in Framingham, Mass.
The decision did not come without a great deal of research and testing, after which the company realized that LED technology could provide the most effective option for its needs.
"The advancements in technology keep coming faster and faster, and we are constantly evaluating when it makes sense to get in the game," says Bob Valair, the company's director of energy environment and management. "When we decided to pursue the project, the time was right in terms of technology and cost and return on investment."
Staples replaced more than 150 parking lot lighting fixtures in its three parking lots — two employee lots and one for visitors — on campus. The project resulted in a 14 percent energy reduction from the retrofit and was so successful that the company is rolling out LED retrofits elsewhere at its corporate headquarters, as well as at Staples facilities nationwide.
"LED has been making inroads," Valair says. "It's just a matter of when you transition that lighting system to an LED product."
The parking lot project opened the door for more company LED projects, both at the corporate headquarters and beyond.
Since the project, the company has added a 63,000-square-foot parking garage that has four levels and 800 parking spaces, including designated spots for carpool parking and plug-in stations for electric cars. The addition of the parking garage brings the total number of parking spaces at the headquarters to 3,200.
Other LED projects at the headquarters include the renovation of the 50,000-square-foot cafeteria and adding LEDs to the dock lights in the shipping area. LED projects are also taking place at Staples distribution centers and stores across the country.