By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
Energy efficiency is one of those low hanging fruits that is ripe to be picked. For Kendall-Jackson Winery, reducing expenses from lighting just made good business sense. It might not seem very sexy, but they expect to see the benefits of their new energy-efficient lighting solution for years to come.
According to the press release, “The California winery aims to save more than $100,000 annually in energy and maintenance costs as a result of an energy efficiency program that features innovative new lighting from GE Consumer & Industrial.”
Unfortunately, the press release does not detail what their upfront investment was nor what the pay back period will be.
Kittyhawk: Changes at a production and storage facility
Kendall-Jackson’s Kittyhawk location, a central production and storage facility, provided the main stage for the lighting retrofit. The 11.5-acre location includes a high-bay area that contains mostly barrels and cased goods, and a low-bay area that houses production and bottling operations. The facility’s previous lighting design relied on a 400-watt metal halide system throughout.
Kendall-Jackson engaged Energy Industries and GE in 2008 to develop ideas for energy-focused projects. The result was a customized approach segmenting each area according to use, incorporating GE’s combined lamp-ballast solution with MetalOptics’ Greenbay™ fixtures, a high-intensity fluorescent solution that couples energy savings with environmental savings by significantly reducing packaging, material waste, weight, floor space requirements and installation times.
For those interested in the technical details, Kendall-Jackson opted for the GE T5 Watt-Miser® system with shatter-resistant covRguard® technology in more active areas such as bottling and blending and GE Ecolux® T8 fluorescent lamps in case goods and barrel storage areas. NEMA Premium® UltraStart™ high-efficiency ballasts from GE are at work in all locations.
To those of us less literate in energy-efficiency techno-speak, fluorescent lamps are the most widely used light sources for commercial, industrial, and institutional spaces. Traditionally, most lamps have been T-12 (i.e., 12/8, or 1.5 inches, in diameter).
However, advances in lamp technology are gradually making the fatter T-12 lamps obsolete. Modern lamps such as T-8s and, most recently, T-5 lamps are narrower and are more energy efficient than T-12s, resulting in cost savings.
And coming down the pike soon will be light emitting diodes (LEDs), which use less energy than fluorescent bulbs and don’t contain mercury.
Why don’t we see this more often?
Obviously these changes are not front-page news, yet it begs the question, why don’t we see more stories about companies making these simple changes?
In Green Cost Cutting: Five Ways to Get Lean Now, Andrew Winston details the business case for integrating energy efficiency.
He emphasizes, “Although your instinct may be to retreat from green initiatives in hard times, that would be shortsided and a deep mistake…Reducing energy use and waste, two pillars of green, can save a great deal of money.”
Opportunity to save $
He points out five areas of business where green thinking will generate savings fast. One of the first tools he discusses is a switch to energy efficient lighting. He includes multiple examples where a small up-front investment has saved companies millions of dollars. For example, Intercontinental Hotel Group spent $400,000 to change 250,000 bulbs and saved $1.2 million a year – a 4-month pay back!
The Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps program places specially trained MBA students into corporations to identify energy efficiency improvements. In 2008, their fellows discovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment and heating and cooling systems that could save the participating companies $35 million in net costs over five years.
According to EDF, “companies are missing significant savings in annual operating costs – around $40,000 for every 50,000 square feet in office space using no-cost or low-cost measures…”
If more businesses stepped up
According to Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), “Nationwide, if all commercial buildings installed state-of-the-art energy-saving lighting systems, their lighting energy use could be reduced by at least 40%. Doing so would lower U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by about 175 billion pounds per year. This action alone could halt the growth in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., given recent growth rates. By using high-efficiency lighting equipment, a business can help the environment and its own bottom line.”
If many businesses do this, they will be taking an important step toward protecting the planet from global warming.
Deborah Fleischer is the founder and president of Green Impact, providing strategic environmental consulting services to mid-sized companies and NGOs who want to launch a new green initiative or cross-sector collaboration, but lack the in-house capacity to get it up and running. She brings expertise in sustainability strategy, program development, stakeholder partnerships and written communications. And you can follow her occasional tweet at GreenImpact.