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Social Responsibility

A Very Fine Arhaus

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Since its beginnings in 1986 as a single store in the Flats district of downtown Cleveland, Arhaus Furniture has offered well-made furniture and accessories for every room of the home. From beds and mattresses to all manner of seating, accent pillows and lamps, Arhaus’s dramatic lifestyle settings have proved popular with customers.

Its proprietary collections have also been guided by a global environmental policy since Arhaus’ founding: No products made of wood from the world’s endangered rainforests or old-growth forests. Instead, they use wood sourced from farmed trees, harvested roots or reclaimed wood and timber, including bamboo, mango and teak grown for the sole purpose of building.

Most goods come from the United States, including the Ohio Amish community, but there are items from Mexico, Europe, India and China, underscoring Arhaus’s eclectic global design point of view.

Its selling environments also eschew a cookie-cutter mentality. The growing chain, now with 40 stores in 16 states, entered the New York City market in May 2011, making over the first two floors of a former warehouse building in the Meatpacking District. The 28,000-sq.-ft. store on West 13th Street features expansive street-level windows that allow passersby to take in Arhaus’s high-end offerings and inspirational merchandise vignettes. New stores are scheduled to open later this year in Edina, Minn., and Dallas, both new markets for Arhaus, as well another location in North Carolina.

Architectural elements are an Arhaus signature. Keynotes in the Meatpacking store include a custom steel-and-sandstone tread staircase, custom millwork, chandeliers and a mix of colorful tile and wood flooring throughout.

Burn rate
Taming energy costs though more efficient means clearly resonates with construction and operations departments, especially for eco-friendly Arhaus. And with lighting costs one of the major contributors, wrestling watts away from general selling space illumination can bring substantial savings.

Remaining true to its sustainable founding philosophy, Arhaus senior management recently decided to incorporate LED lights to dramatically reduce energy and maintenance costs.

RDL Architects, Arhaus’s architect of record for more than 20 years, has assisted the construction of freestanding and mall-based stores, as well as in the retrofitting of existing units. Over more than two decades, “We’ve gone from incandescent to halogen to even more efficient halogens and now LED, to conserve energy consumption,” says Mark Poltorek, RDL’s commercial studio director.

Guided by a design team made up of Arhaus and RDL personnel, lighting consultants CCG LED Solutions delivered a turnkey LED lighting plan for the Manhattan store and existing locations. “The new Arhaus location was the perfect opportunity for us to implement LED lighting throughout our showroom to help us effectively display our furnishings in an actual home setting,” says John Roddy, Arhaus senior vice president and chief logistics officer.

CCG first conducted an audit of Arhaus’s existing lighting system to determine ways to create greater efficiencies and reduce its energy load. Audits benchmarked current energy usage and helped the team understand the predicted energy savings post-LED installation.

After the audit, CCG tested a variety of LED lamp options from numerous vendors to determine which products provided the best showroom lighting atmosphere. That meant taking steps to ensure fabric colors were accurately rendered, as well as balancing interior lighting with daylight coming from exterior windows. “This helps customers get the full effect of what a particular piece of furniture would look like in their home,” Roddy says.

Fewer fixtures, lower costs
Once the design phase was complete, the next steps included scheduling and executing the rollout, procuring all incentives and recycling/donating all used lamps.

The CCG LED Solutions team made specific recommendations regarding the retrofit of lighting in Arhaus’s stores, including immediately replacing 64-watt PAR38 halogen lamps with 12-watt PAR38 LED lamps in current fixture sockets, reducing energy consumption by 82 percent.

By implementing CCG’s recommendations, in a six-month period Arhaus realized year-over-year energy savings of nearly $225,000 due to a 60 percent reduction in consumption, as well as annual savings of $50,000 in lamp costs from minimizing the number of replacement products needed and the increased longevity of LED lamps. Arhaus also experienced more than $19,000 in decreased labor costs, since LED lamps have a longer lifespan and don’t need to be changed as often.

What’s more, since LED lamps decrease the overall temperature in the showroom, less energy is needed to cool facilities. Arhaus was also able to reconfigure each new showroom to use fewer fixtures. The retailer determined it could decrease the total number of fixtures in a typical store (averaging 20,000 sq. ft.) by 15 percent, reducing future fixture investment costs and energy consumption.

Since initial development, CCG has deployed LED lighting throughout all Arhaus locations, Roddy says. CCG’s calculations indicated a total return on investment will be realized in about 18 months, saving an estimated $4 million in energy, maintenance and lamp costs over the five-year warranty period.

Poltorek notes that the stores still employ light sources like fluorescents on occupancy sensors in non-selling areas, but he hopes to change that soon. The upfront costs of LED are higher, he admits, but Arhaus saves money in the long term.

“We’re pushing for LED throughout, including stockrooms and exit lighting,” he says, with the goal of having all stores “completely LED equipped” by 2013.