Gander Mountain Cuts Energy Costs

A lighting retrofit has resulted in significant energy savings for Gander Mountain’s store in Rothschild, Wis. The project involved a switch from industry-standard metal-halide light fixtures to a high-intensity fluorescent lighting platform.

“These [metal-halide] lamps output a high level of energy, which was becoming increasingly costly in the tightening economy,” said Matt Sansone, energy manager, Gander Mountain, St. Paul, Minn., which operates 115 outdoor specialty stores in 32 states.

The Rothschild location had 140 450-watt metal-halide light fixtures in place, consuming a total of 465 kilowatts of energy per hour. The retailer replaced the fixtures with 140 high-intensity fluorescent fixtures (Compact Modular, from Orion Energy Systems, Manitowoc, Wis.).These six-lamp fixtures, equipped with T8 lamps from GE, consume 220 kilowatts of energy per hour.

In addition to a 50%-plus reduction in electricity costs, the Orion fixtures and T8 lamps run at a cooler temperature than the previous metal-halide lamps.

“The fixtures run approximately 1,000 degrees cooler than metal-halide lights,” Sansone said. “This means we use less HVAC power, which has provided slightly lower cooling costs, especially during the summer months.”

The retrofit has provided Gander Mountain with several key advantages, starting with lower utility bills. The cost savings are estimated at $9,363 annually. But when the lowered cooling costs are factored into the equation, the savings jump to $12,566.

Based on the savings, Sansone expects a payback time of 18 months. The quick payback time was critical. Before Sansone joined Gander Mountain, the company had upgraded 50 locations to a different fluorescent solution. Once on board, however, the energy manager decided to look for more cost-efficient options as more stores became eligible for a retrofit.

“We were ready to extend the lighting upgrade, and it was time to look for more cost-efficient options. The cost of the new fixture was a main driver,” he explained. “In the past, a three-year return on investment was acceptable. These days, however, we are concerned with getting the best ROI possible, and we are tightening up time frames on returns to be under two years.”

A reduced environmental impact goes hand in hand with the energy savings. It’s estimated that the switch to the new system will result in a 140-ton reduction in carbon dioxide.

The retrofit has provided Gander Mountain with other benefits as well. The new fixtures feature aluminum housing made of 95% reflective material, which offers the highest distribution of light compared to the other options Gander Mountain considered, according to Sansone.

“Since making the transition to Orion’s fixtures, we have experienced not only an approximately 50% reduction in our lighting costs, but our footcandle rating, or the amount of light produced one foot away, has increased by 60%,” he added.

To date, two Gander Mountain stores have installed the Orion high-intensity system. Approximately five more locations are slated to come on board in 2009.

HID fixtures were replaced with Orion’s Compact Modular high-intensity fluorescent fixtures equipped with T8 lamps from GE.