Banking is about to get brighter. In a deal amounting to the largest single installation of LED lights in history, some 5,000 Chase branches will replace indoor light bulbs and fluorescent tubes and outdoor lamps with over 1.4 million energy-efficient LEDs. The project will cover a projected 25 million square feet of retail banking space in total, an area nearly 40 times the size of the Louvre. The work will begin in the coming months and is expected to finish by the end of 2017.
Current, the digital distributed energy startup created by GE that will supply and install the technology, estimates the LEDs will lower the branches' lighting-related energy use by half. “The world is moving to LEDs,” said Jaime Irick, chief commercial officer at Current. “Chase sees us as trusted advisors helping make that move.”
Chase's parent company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Current announced the deal today at the New York Stock Exchange. They rang the closing bell along with other Current customers.
“Doing this LED retrofit made sense because the payback on lighting is pretty swift compared to other interventions you could make,” says Granville Martin, JPMorgan Chase's managing director of sustainable finance. “We're really excited about this project with Current. It's a great step for the bank. It makes enormous environmental and economic sense for us.”
The project represents a major milestone for Current, which GE launched in October 2015. The startup's ultimate goal is to reduce electricity costs and increase grid stability by deploying smart LEDs, on-site power production, advanced batteries and other technologies. These separate components will talk to one another through Predix, GE's cloud-based predictive analytics software platform.
“We're future-proofing Chase's LED system so that it could eventually use automated controls coupled with sensors to drive new outcomes,” Irick says. “In Current, we're linking energy-saving and energy-producing technology with the unprecedented power of software and predictive analytics to transform the distributed energy sector. Chase and our other customers recognize this need within their organizations and see us as a one-stop shop that can eventually connect it all together.”
For the bank, the deal comes down to economics. The price of LEDs is rapidly dropping, and they use much less energy than incandescent light bulbs. The fact that they can last up to 50,000 hours also reduces maintenance costs over much shorter-lived lighting. As a result, usage of LEDs is expected to grow from 28 percent today to 95 percent by 2025.
So far, a number of big-name customers are trying out some of Current's technologies, including Hilton, Walgreens, and Simon Properties. Intelligent city pilot projects in San Diego, Calif., and Jacksonville, Fla., have also deployed thousands of sensor-carrying LED streetlights in their neighborhoods. Those lower-energy lights are already saving hundreds of thousands of dollars every year by using less electricity.
Because the streetlights are also outfitted with transceivers that connect them to one another and to the cloud, they could soon start relaying to drivers information such as real-time parking availability and weather alerts. Onboard vibration sensors, meanwhile, can detect and communicate shootings, earthquakes and other emergencies.
JPMorgan Chase's Martin says big energy cost reductions help his bank win over customers by showing that it is attuned to their desires. “Customers want to feel like they are coming to a company that is trying to manage its environmental footprint effectively,” he says.