Thursday, Oct. 26th 2017

Reducing your building costs are as easy as changing a light bulb

Reducing your building costs are as easy as changing a light bulbAs I perused the winners of the recent “Coolest Office Spaces” competition in the Kansas City Business Journal, I’m amazed at some of the innovative ways local businesses have created fun and productive work environments for their employees.

We’ve definitely seen a new shift in the office trends of recent years. The old rows of enclosed offices were often replaced by cube farms, which were then often replaced by large open collaboration areas. Now, companies are finding benefit from mixed-use spaces, with plenty of private and public spaces to cater to all types of employees.

These hip new work environments aren’t just good for employee morale and productivity, though. Many companies are looking to a redesign in an attempt to save a few bucks on what’s often their second largest expense after payroll. But these kinds of interior overhauls don’t always come cheap, so facility managers are constantly searching for the low-hanging fruit that will deliver big savings in a short amount of time.

Turns out they simply need to look up.

Dollars hanging from the ceiling

A big part of your overhead is, well, over your head. Those buzzing, flickering (and usually ugly) tubes in your office building are a huge energy suck. In fact, lighting makes up 17 percent of all electricity consumption in U.S. commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey.

Of course, the rise in fluorescent lighting is a big reason the energy costs of lighting have come down as much as they have – lighting used to make up 38 percent of consumption in 2003 – but the costs are still too high.

The potential for massive cost savings are attracting a lot of building managers and owners to invest in an LED retrofit. Not only can you eliminate maintenance for five to 10 years, but the energy savings can be substantial. Not long ago, we retrofitted a single supermarket, replacing nearly 2,000 bulbs with energy-efficient LED lighting. Immediately, we reduced the store’s energy consumption by 70 percent and saved the owners $50,000 each year—which translates into a lifetime savings of $450,000.

The energy savings don’t stop there. LED lights use what small amount of energy they consume to make light—not heat. However, if your building still uses a large amount of fluorescent and/or incandescent fixtures, you’re spending extra money on air conditioning to counteract the additional heat produced. Replacing them with LED lights could mean a nice break on that energy drain as well.

Take a second look

Now may be a good time to include lighting in a broader examination of your entire building’s energy use. A process known as retro-commissioning may serve as an opportunity for a facility manager to ensure the building’s electrical controls are both satisfying code and the energy efficiency that’s desired.

One study found that this process resulted in a median energy savings of 16 percent for existing buildings, which meant a savings of $0.29 per square foot. An article in The Blue Book elaborates:

“Once a basic review of the lighting control system has been started, several studies show that retro-commissioning can optimize performance and energy savings … The payback on using LED lamps can significantly improve lighting and reduce your bottom line.”

The good news is that as LED technology has improved, retrofits have become simpler than they’ve ever been, which means significant cost savings are easily within your reach.

So even if you’re not ready to throw out your cubicles and build new collaboration areas for your employees, you can still start improving your office environment—and your bottom line.

Martin Zhang is president of LED2, a manufacturer and seller of indoor and outdoor commercial LED lighting products. How are you trying to reduce your energy use in your facility? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @LED2.

Posted in Company News, Blogs

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