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It's good news when a corporation like Starbucks that has outlets on every city street corner and inside the most unexpected of businesses (why is there a Starbucks in my bank lobby?) says that it is switching to LEDs. The coffee chain says that it's swapping out conventional bulbs for LEDs in 8,000 of its stores. The swap will save each store nearly 10% in electricity consumption. The LED light swap will cut energy consumption by about 7% at each store, and is part of the company's goal to cut total energy consumption by 25% by the end of 2010. With a company this size, there are a lot of ways the carbon footprint can be cut down inexpensively. As Greentech Media points out, even turning down the temperature on the hot water will help (there really is no need to steep tea in water that takes 20 minutes to cool enough to be drinkable). There's also the option of (gasp!) closing down a few tiny shops in favor of one larger one where real estate permits.
But Starbucks does care about how the LEDs look. The new lights are a special design from General Electric that meets the aesthetic and design criteria of Starbucks. That, on top of the expensive price tag of LEDs, makes this a bigger green move than it appears for Starbucks.
The company isn't often on this side of green when it comes to operations. A year ago they were in hot water for wasting 6 million gallons of water a day, all for a very lame policy for cleanliness. However, they have been trying hard to be eco-friendly, including starting BICEP, Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, switching to hormone-free milk, and getting more serious about fair trade coffee.