Lighting the Way for G.I. Joe's

No one really notices if the ambient lighting in a "big box" retail store is successful. And that's just how Dave Fouts likes it. Fouts is the vice president of planning and logistics for G.I. Joe's, a popular Northwest retailer of sports and auto accessories. "Customers only notice lighting when it's too dark, too bright or lamps are burned out," says Fouts.

04/01/2003


No one really notices if the ambient lighting in a "big box" retail store is successful. And that's just how Dave Fouts likes it. Fouts is the vice president of planning and logistics for G.I. Joe's, a popular Northwest retailer of sports and auto accessories.

"Customers only notice lighting when it's too dark, too bright or lamps are burned out," says Fouts. "Background lighting should be invisible. When you walk into a store that's lit well, lighting should be the last thing on your mind."

Since 1952, G.I. Joe's, Wilsonville, Ore., has grown to 13 stores throughout the state and seven stores in Washington. The stores range in size from 35,000 sq. ft. to 70,000 sq. ft.

Company officials want presentation, decor, color schemes and lighting in their stores to enhance each customer's shopping experience. They require, among other things, that the lighting systems deliver the efficiency required to meet state energy codes and provide cost savings; superior functionality in color and UV output; and flexibility to adjust light levels conditioned upon daylighting.

An evaluation of existing 460-watt metal-halide lighting systems determined that the lamps were not efficient or flexible enough to meet design requirements. G.I. Joe's found its solution in an alternative high-bay lighting system that features up and down reflectivity and uses 42-watt compact fluorescent lamps. It was felt that CFLs, when compared to metal halide, would offer better integration with planned lighting controls, energy efficiency, longer performance life and cooler temperatures. CFLs would also provide a CRI of 84, compared to 65 for metal halide.

The system design integrates a light-level matrix with four distinct illumination profiles that are engineered by zones within the store and factor in merchandise layout, daylighting and fixture profiles.

The appropriate light level is determined by the daylight conditions and adjusted automatically by the system. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the system automatically adjusts light level to deliver the required footcandles of illumination with minimum power usage. When the store is in the "occupied" phase, both before and after store hours, the system automatically sets the light level at 50%. Finally, during the "vacated" phase, the system sets the level to night-light mode.

All of the lighting profiles run in a pre-programmed and automatic mode, but can be overridden by store management to raise or lower light levels. Any changes implemented by store management are purged, and the system re-sets to the default program at midnight. More permanent program changes are administered by G.I. Joe's store maintenance department via wide-area network.

"We wanted to make the lighting system controls available to the store manager to make changes whenever necessary," said Fouts. "The system allows our managers to step down the entire system if needed."





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