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H-E-B at Mueller

 Austin, TX  Indoor Lighting

With the help of 90 percent Cree® LED lighting in their new H-E-B at Mueller store, H-E-B can boast the most environmentally innovative grocery store in Austin with registration for both LEED certification and Austin Energy Green Building certification.


Over 100 years ago, in 1901, an enterprising woman named Florence Butt invested $60 and opened a small, family-owned store in a little town 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.”

In 2010, Progressive Grocer Magazine named H-E-B Retailer of the Year, based on, among other things, industry contribution, industry and community leadership, social responsibility and sustainability. This award recognizes H-E-B’s emphasis, since the 1930s, on commitment to the local communities surrounding their stores, with the company contributing five percent 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 are in turn 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 at H-E-B, states: “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 the industry leader in the LED lighting: Cree.


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 the H-E-B at Mueller’s exterior parking areas, Wernette also brought Cree® LED lighting indoors. The result: a store beautifully-lit 90 percent by Cree.

The main sales floor with its unique wooden ceilings is illuminated using Cree CS18™ LED linear luminaires, with the CR24™ LED architectural troffers in the pharmacy and administrative areas, and LR6™ LED downlights in the specialty departments, waiting areas and restrooms. Powered by Cree TrueWhite® Technology, the Cree fixtures deliver 90+ CRI, providing exceptional color rendering. These products deliver some of the best light levels in the industry while providing a significant reduction in energy use since less power is needed to illuminate the items on all levels of the shelves.

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. According to Wernette, “The neat thing is that with daylighting, we are seeing dimmed rows that in some cases are going all the way down to 10 percent.”


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. “The Cree® fixture was light in weight, which helped us here because we were trying to avoid a lot of connection points back to all that nice wood you see in the ceilings.”

Backed by Cree’s 10-year limited warranty, Cree LED lighting also offers significant maintenance savings. “What really made Cree attractive here at Mueller,” says Wernette, “were their warranties. 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. As Wernette states: “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.”

Wernette adds, “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. Says Wernette, “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. 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.”

In keeping with H-E-B’s mission of community and social responsibility, the company website offers: “We always look for great products for today and tomorrow.” That spirit of innovation extends to their selection of store lighting with the Cree LED lighting solution. When asked if Cree would be considered for additional H-E-B lighting installations, Wernette simply replied: “Absolutely. They absolutely will be.”

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