Energy Savings on Lighting: Thinking Beyond Fancy Light Bulbs

One of the most visible and enticing energy reduction targets that most organizations gravitate towards is lighting.

One of the most visible and enticing energy reduction targets that most organizations gravitate towards is lighting. Offices, factories, cafeterias, bathrooms, parking lots, garages, walkways….take a stroll around any city, office park or corporate campus and chances are you will see things lit up like a Christmas tree most hours of every day. With the growing focus on corporate sustainability and energy reduction, companies like Cree, Phillips, Digital Lumens, Solatube and many others have brought innovative low energy lighting solutions to market (LED, solar lighting, sensor-based lighting management solutions, etc.) to help business address this challenge. 

Before going down the path of wholesale replacement of our existing lighting infrastructure at CA Technologies, however, we decided to take a step back to see if we could save on lighting energy burn the old fashioned way – by using less of it. Some of the things we found and projects we executed on may surprise you and hopefully resonate with you.  They were easy to implement, generated a rapid (or very rapid) ROI, and made a significant impact in helping lower our energy consumption (kWh) and CO2 emissions.

First things first:  Perform an common-sense audit
Chances are you’ll identify a number of relatively easy ways to cut down on lighting energy burn without hardware replacement if you approach the project with some good-old-fashioned common sense. Some of the steps we took at CA Technologies at our Islandia, NY headquarters included:

•Identify areas where more light was being provided than was necessary for the work force to be comfortable and productive
•Identify areas where lighting was being provided, but that people did not require for significant portions of the day/night
•Identify areas where lighting was superfluous and not adding value to the employees or the enterprise
•Develop a list of potential projects and gather as much data about lighting-related energy burn related to those projects as we could

Once we had gone through this process, we were ready to execute on some “low-hanging fruit” projects that would provide a quick and powerful bang for the buck.This is what we did out of the gate.

Energy Savings on Lighting Project #1:  Delamping
It turns out that we were providing more light in many locations than our employees required or were asking for. Most of our office building is lit by the ubiquitous 3-tube, overhead fluorescent light fixture. We ran a small pilot project to see if there was any impact on employee productivity or perception of lighting quality if we removed one of the three tubes, and there wasn’t.

We are currently in the process of “delamping” the majority of the facility and are expecting close to a 1/3 reduction in energy utilization, cost and CO2 emissions related to those lighting fixtures. We will continue to gather data and employee feedback and if the results continue to be favorable, we are planning on deploying this solution at additional CA Technologies facilities.

Energy Savings on Lighting Project #2:  Garages and Parking Lots
Like many businesses, CA Technologies has employees working 24/7. Also like many companies, there are far fewer employees working overnight than during the day. That didn’t mean that the lighting situation in our substantial parking areas (parking lots and multiple story parking garages) reflected that reality. When we looked at the bills and the amount of unnecessary energy being used, that had to change.Unnecessary Parking Lot Lights

Implementation was a snap. We created specially designated parking areas for all 2nd and 3rd shift employees, thereby eliminating the need to have the vast majority of our parking area lit during non-peak hours. We did need to procure some bollards and chains to allow internal facility staff to close the unutilized parking areas at night. The results have been significant. We are projecting a reduction from 358,978 kWh to 166,969 kWh used per year and with a savings of nearly $14,000 in year one. The response from employees has been very favorable and we will be deploying this solution at other CA Technologies locations going forward.

Energy Savings on Lighting Project #3:  Fitness Center Hours
The fitness center in Islandia was suffering from the same issue as the parking areas. The fitness facility was open, lit and powered up 24/7/365, yet only a tiny fraction of overall usage took place in the overnight hours and about 97% of usage took place during the week.

By delving into the numbers, it was decided to close the fitness center from 11pm to 5am on weekdays and 10pm to 5am on weekends. This allowed us to still serve 99.2% of all employees that used the facility and realize immediate and significant energy reductions. We project we will save over 170,000 kWh by closing these facilities down during times they were almost never used. It’s not even necessary to tell you about the ROI, it happened the day we implemented the new hours. For other CA Technology locations with fitness centers, this is a no brainer.

Nobody likes cool sustainability technology more than I do. I love to learn about new, cutting edge solutions that are making a difference. But when it comes to lighting, the first thing I would recommend is walk around your business for a few hours during daylight and then again when it’s dark out.  You’ll be surprised how many ways you’ll identify that will make a difference.

Written by

Cynthia Curtis

As vice president and chief sustainability officer, Cynthia oversees the CA Technologies Office of Sustainability…

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