Over 100 years ago, in 1901, an enterprising woman named Florence Butt invested $60 and opened a small, family-owned store in Texas Hill Country. Today, that $60 has grown into H-E-B Grocery Stores—one of the largest privately-owned food retailers in the country with more than 340 stores in 150 communities, employing 76,000 employees. As the company’s overview states: “We’ve always dreamed big.” HEB Cree LED inbody

H-E-B emphasizes a commitment to the local communities surrounding their stores, with the company contributing 5% of pre-tax earnings to community and charitable programs. That community commitment also extends to environmental stewardship. As part of their construction plans, H-E-B stores are now designed to save on energy consumption and reuse materials wherever possible, saving thousands of dollars each year in energy costs—savings that in turn are passed along to customers.

In planning for their newest, most environmentally innovative store—H-E-B at Mueller in Austin, Texas—Charles Wernette, director of engineering says, “We decided to make this store at Mueller our most energy-efficient store to date. One of the energy-saving initiatives we undertook was to make every light in the store LED.”

To make that goal a reality, H-E-B turned to Cree, a Durham, N.C.-based supplier of LED lighting solutions.

H-E-B had already been using LED lighting in parking lots for two years, so they were familiar with the technology and its improved light quality and energy and maintenance cost savings. In addition to installing Cree’s LEDway luminaires in H-E-B at Mueller’s exterior parking areas, Wernette also brought Cree LED lighting indoors. The result—a store lit 90% by Cree.

With its unique wooden ceilings, the main sales floor is illuminated using Cree CS18 LED linear luminaires, with the CR24 LED architectural troffers in the pharmacy and administrative areas and LR6 LED down lights in the specialty departments, waiting areas and restrooms. Powered by Cree TrueWhite technology, the Cree fixtures deliver 90-plus CRI, providing exceptional color rendering.

The Cree LED luminaires are fully dimmable for additional energy management, allowing the store to benefit from even greater savings. Since the Cree CS18 linear luminaires were installed with a complete dimming system, H-E-B at Mueller takes full advantage of this savings on energy usage.

“The neat thing is that with day lighting, we are seeing dimmed rows that in some cases are going all the way down to 10%,” says Wernette.

Although the primary reason H-E-B went with a Cree LED lighting solution was the energy savings it offered, the look of the Cree fixtures also proved attractive.

“We liked the small profile of the CS18 linear that we used in the store. We felt that the fixture fit in aesthetically,” says Wernette.

Those aesthetics also helped with a unique design opportunity presented by the architectural elements of the store. Backed by Cree’s 10-year limited warranty, Cree LED lighting also offers significant maintenance savings.

“What really made Cree attractive here at Mueller were their warranties,” says Wernette. “The Cree warranties are very, very good. Obviously, with a warranty like that, we typically in the past would have relamped a store within two years of opening. So, all that avoidance of relamping expense was definitely used in our decision-making process for going to a Cree LED lighting solution.”

Another factor that made Cree stand out from the other vendors was Cree’s willingness to work with H-E-B.

“Cree’s willingness to work together with us, working back and forth, made the whole package from Cree more attractive than what we received from anyone else,” says Wernette. “The biggest difference is because everything in the store is LED. The uniformity you get with LED is better. The technology makes the product look good. The store feels like the products really do stand out better. They’re crisper. The colors are more vivid. The staff notices that as well.”

And, it isn’t just the H-E-B staff and customers who are pleased.

“The neighborhood for the store at Mueller was very concerned about protecting the environment, not having a lot of glare and not having a lot of light going past the property lines. And, protecting the dark skies,” adds Wernette. “The LED technology from Cree has helped us do that. It’s something that the community really thinks looks good there and it’s not offensive to anyone.”