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How this New York mall stays merry and bright, while saving energy

Ridge Hill's extensive LED lighting and controls update has actually allowed it to add more holiday displays.

The holiday spirit is fun, bright and in many cases expensive for retailers, shopping centers and facilities because energy use often increases around the holidays — stores are often open longer and bright lights are often central to festive displays.

At Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers, New York, these increased costs historically have left us with hefty bills and a less than "holly jolly" financial department. Yes, retail stores and malls are able to make more money by extending their hours during the busy shopping season but the extra costs associated with winter and holiday electricity bills can be daunting.

At Ridge Hill, we’ve realized substantial energy savings this holiday season as the result of a four-year initiative with lighting specialists Tri-State LED to introduce more sustainable, efficient lighting and controls throughout the interior and exterior of our facility. Lighting is such an important part of the holiday tradition — from extravagant and photo-ready light displays, to ensuring adequate light quality both throughout the facility and in its surrounding parking lots and garages. We’ve been able to maintain a shopping center that is merry and bright by investing in both LED technologies and controls. 

It’s important to remember that sustainability shouldn’t be limited to the holiday season, but instead needs to be a year-round effort in order to truly maximize energy savings. For Ridge Hill, this began five years ago when our team first decided to make the change from fluorescents and pressure sodium lighting systems to LED fixtures — a change that later would save us over $300,000 in lighting and maintenance costs each year.

Once the basic lighting infrastructure was installed, the mall ultimately was able to incorporate its holiday displays and decorations.
As our campus features not just a shopping center, but also restaurants and theaters, it was most important to establish an advanced lighting system within our parking garages and facility exteriors. LED tubes were the best choice to retrofit the existing garage fixtures due to their 10-year warranty, ability to boost energy efficiency by 55 percent and their reduction of light pollution through limitation of light diffusion.

Going beyond a simple retrofit, Ridge Hill integrated controls into the street lighting systems. To better manage energy use and maintenance of the 140 poles and external lights, we introduced calendrical timers with a centralized control system. Before the timers, we had sensors that were not as efficient or as simple to program. With the calendrical timers, lighting is scheduled in accordance with the calendar year to turn lights on at dusk and dawn. Additionally, the centralization of the timer allows our team to quickly identify and locate points of failure sooner. These controls have helped us boost energy efficiency by 7 to 10 percent, allowing Ridge Hill to achieve 65 percent energy savings for this project.

Our switch to LED lighting contributed to more than just energy savings, as it also has helped the mall meet sustainability and environmental initiatives. LEDs drastically have reduced our carbon dioxide emission output compared to legacy lighting options. Simultaneously, using LEDs has helped us reduce the amount of mercury we are responsible for exposing to the environment.

Once the basic lighting infrastructure was installed, the mall ultimately was able to incorporate our holiday displays and decorations into existing controls. For example, decorative wreaths with LED lights are integrated into the street light control system. 

Our "Twinkling Lights on The Hill" display is a major draw for consumers who want to take pictures of the elaborate and extravagant displays inside and outside of the shopping center. This year, we revamped our holiday décor by introducing new LED displays, including a new 45-foot tree, our new holiday house/Santa’s cottage and 65 LED wrapped trees running from the north end to the south end of the facility. On the south end of the center, we’ve opened a new community space that houses a newly opened LED light display, including a 33-foot crystal tree, a 23-foot crystal tree, four 10-foot LED reindeer and a pergola lit with LED lights. While we’ve introduced a number of new displays, our use of LED lighting strands throughout has increased the energy efficiency of the displays up to 50 percent.  

All is merry and bright at Ridge Hill as our operations team continues with our energy, environmental and cost savings initiatives. The progress didn't come overnight, but took time and careful decisions about the best options for the facility. One decision is certain for Ridge Hill, however: LEDs have become a key component of our sustainability program.

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