Associated Grocers of New England Replaces Fluorescents for Major Savings


Customer: Associated Grocers of New England (AGNE)
Location: Pembroke, NH
Facility Size: 380,000 ft2 with 56,000 ft2 cold storage lighting upgrade from Digital Lumens
Operational Schedule: 24 x 6
Environment: Refrigeration/Cold Storage
Temperature Range: -15ºF
Savings: 90% energy
Previous Solution: T5 HO fluorescent
Shifts: 3
Reseller: Leading Edge Design Group (LEDG)
Utility Partner: Public Service of New Hampshire

New Intelligent LED Lighting System Reduces Lighting-Related Energy Use by 90%, Saving More Than 482,000 kWh Annually

Headquartered in Pembroke, NH, Associated Grocers of New England was founded in 1946 by a small group of independent grocers interested in consolidating their buying power to better serve customers. Today, Associated Grocers of New England (AG New England) is one of the nation’s largest retailer-owned purchasing and distribution cooperatives, serving more than 600 independent food stores throughout New England and Upstate New York.

In addition to providing retail support services, AG New England operates a 380,000-square foot warehousing and distribution center, which employs more than 300 service professionals in areas ranging from advertising and marketing to merchandising and warehousing operations. This best practice facility incorporates state-of-the-art shipping, receiving, storing, and handling technologies to enable AG New England to maintain an exceptionally high level of service and on-time delivery record for the benefit of its member stores.

Like every other cold storage warehousing facility in the country, however, AG New England has wrestled with the high energy and maintenance costs associated with lighting refrigerated spaces. Cold temperatures put an incredible strain on its traditional fluorescent luminaires, leading to decreased lighting output, high lamp burnout rates and ongoing maintenance issues. To meet its energy efficiency and cost containment goals, the management team at AG New England was determined to find a safe, no-compromise lighting solution for its cold storage warehousing area.

Digital Lumens Opens the Door to Significant Savings

Working with the Leading Edge Design Group (LEDG), an energy optimization services firm offering lighting design and consultation services, AG New England evaluated its options. The challenge was to find a one-for-one replacement alternative for its T5 HO lighting luminaires located within a 56,600-square foot cold storage area. Maintained at a consistent -15° F operating temperature, the luminaires simply consumed too much energy, required too much maintenance and fell well-short of the cooperative’s sustainability goals.

Following a thorough review, LEDG recommended replacing the facility’s fluorescent luminaires with the LED-based Intelligent Lighting System from Digital Lumens. By incorporating smart, LED luminaires— all with built-in occupancy sensors, wireless networking and software controls — the Intelligent Lighting System offered AG New England a clear path to unmatched energy efficiency savings, flexibility and control over how lighting was used within its cold storage area.

In addition to performing exceptionally well in cold temperature environments, the Intelligent Lighting System’s highly integrated approach to lighting enabled AG New England to:

  • Dramatically improve light levels (from 9 to 25 foot candles) while reducing energy usage by up to 90%.
  • Easily save more than 482,000 kWh/year, reducing operating costs by more than $52,000 annually.
  • Significantly reduce demand on refrigeration systems, further increasing energy savings.
  • Eliminate ongoing maintenance (for example, re-lamping and re-ballasting) costs.
  • Enhance workplace safety through improved light levels and quality.


“For years, lighting our cold storage areas has been fraught with challenges, ranging from durability and efficiency issues, to heat dissipation and its impact on refrigeration loads,” said Bruce Courtois, Facilities Manager for Associated Grocers of New England. “Then we installed the Digital Lumens system and literally overnight, all of these problems just simply went away. Immediately, we recognized dramatic energy savings. Light levels improved, re-lamping exercises ended and we eliminated ongoing maintenance expenses. To say that we were pleased with the outcome would be an understatement—we are thrilled and delighted.”

In addition to working with AG New England to develop a comprehensive lighting and energy assessment for its cold storage area —including target light levels, system performance and evaluation metrics—the LEDG team also managed the process of securing a utility company incentive. The cooperative’s utility company, Public Service of New Hampshire, contributed to the installation costs associated with replacing aging lighting systems through its NHSaves@Work/Large Business Energy Solutions Program.

Historical Perspective on AG New England’s Lighting

Since its founding in 1946, AG New England has undergone many lighting upgrades, all of which delivered incremental improvements in efficiency, lamp source longevity and maintenance. Yet the underlying problems associated with lighting refrigerated environments with fluorescent luminaires remained—poor light output, poor performance and high maintenance costs.

With LED-based lighting, which doesn’t degrade in cold environments, all this has changed. Well-designed LEDs can be used as needed—turned off and instantaneously back on without warm-up times or impacting longevity—and save energy along the way. Furthermore, they are inherently controllable when combined with integrated sensors, wireless networks, and control software.

The Digital Lumens Intelligent Lighting System combines all of these ingredients to enable AG New England to dramatically reduce its energy usage while improving light levels. It also offers:

  • A single, integrated approach to lighting, supported by a single vendor and proven in real-world industrial settings, eliminating the need to cobble together and support a multi-vendor solution.
  • Integrated lighting management software, LightRules  that enables facility managers to quickly review and fine-tune lighting behaviors (such as how long a luminaire stays on after a space is vacated), with only a few keystrokes and without touching a luminaire.
  • Access to detailed light usage and occupancy reports that document how lighting is used within the facility, providing the information facility managers need to safely manage luminaire settings and substantiate the energy savings.
  • The ability to lock-in dramatic energy savings over the long-haul in the face of rising energy costs.

“Historically, lighting our freezer space has always presented a significant challenge, due to the harsh environment and its impact on light quality,” continued Mr. Courtois. “Not only has the Digital Lumens system solved these problems, but the lighting system is now delivering information and data to us, giving us value from our lighting investment that we never anticipated. Today, we have complete operational control over our lighting, resulting in better lighting delivery, lower energy costs and significant bottom-line savings.”