Five Questions With: Geoffrey Poirier

Geoffrey Poirier, the energy manager for Ocean State Job Lot, is overseeing the conversion of lighting in its 131 retail locations to LED-based systems. The project will include the 15 store locations in Rhode Island. Poirier explained how it will be administered.

PBN: The company is investing $14 million in this LED lighting conversion, which is a huge investment. Is there any rough timeline for when this will pay for itself, and did the company receive any incentives or program help from the utility provider?

POIRIER: The rough timeline for the return on investment is about [two and a half] years for the whole project. The utility companies are working with us on acquiring rebates through the various programs provided through each state.

 

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PBN: How long did Ocean State Job Lot consider this program and what was the thinking in deciding to go ahead? Was it more financial savings than eco-friendliness or a combination of the two?

POIRIER: Ocean State Job Lot has been slowly implementing LED retrofits wherever possible over a number of years now, but during 2017 we really started looking at the portfolio as a whole. What sparked this decision was the replacement of lighting in our distribution center and corporate office. We were able to see the immediate benefits from energy reduction and rebates.

We have been working on finding the right solution that fits not only our financial needs but also more-robust controls over our lighting and HVAC equipment. Even though the financial savings aspect is a huge part of any program or project, we are thrilled to be making great strides at becoming a more-eco-friendly company. LED conversion is a big step forward in reaching our goals.

PBN: What is the timeline for conversion of the Rhode Island stores and will customers notice a difference?

POIRIER: The current timeline is from August through October 2018. Our customers will see an immediate impact, as all of our stores will have a standard lighting layout as well as much brighter light throughout the store.

The first thing that I noticed after our trial stores in Biddeford, Maine, Fall River, Mass., and Woonsocket were completed was that the colors are really popping on the packaging of the products. We think our customers are going to really enjoy the improved shopping experience.

PBN: Explain how the Energy Management platform works. Can the whole system of stores be controlled remotely?

POIRIER: The addition of the new control platform will give us not only a higher rebate value but more control over the energy usage in our stores. Ocean State Job Lot property managers and maintenance technicians will be able to view lighting and HVAC controls remotely from any internet device – even their phones. For example, I could be in China on a tablet and access the store controls in any of our stores. This improved control will also help us with maintenance; we’ll be able to isolate issues prior to arriving to a job site. We can also take better control of any lighting or HVAC overrides, which will further cut down on costs.

PBN: What else is the Green Team at OSJL considering for the future? Can you elaborate on the sustainability efforts and what might take priority?

POIRIER: Our Green Team is working on implementing a Sustainability Program throughout our whole company. We are working with Waste Management to control and improve our waste recycling, and we are looking into local opportunities to team up with various Rhode Island-based companies that reuse some of the materials that we are collecting. Solar is currently being proposed, not only as a single project but as a program throughout Ocean State Job Lot, at our corporate headquarters in North Kingstown as well as our stores throughout the Northeast.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.