Clean technology often focuses on exotic and exciting renewable energy solutions. Such attention is only natural as many young companies are in the race to wean the United States off of imported fossil fuels. But whether we like it or not, those same fuels will part of our energy mix for a long time, and some companies are succeeding in developing new products or services that improve energy efficiency.
One of those companies is Groom Energy, based in Salem, Massachusetts. The company provides energy consulting as well as lighting and heating products for its industrial and commercial clients. This month Groom Energy ships out its 20,000th GES hybrid lighting system, a fixture that allows the rapid retrofit of existing commercial lighting modules while reducing their energy consumption by over fifty percent. The company also scored a utility patent for GES, and is developing a niche market with parking structures across the country.
Parking structures often attract energy advocates’ attention because of the potential they have for generating solar energy, or even wind power, on their roofs. It is true that vast rooftop real estate across the country could be harnessed for energy production. But these often mundane, dull buildings are still in active use, and like many industries or services that lack panache, they are a cash cow. And parking structures, especially those open around the clock, consume watts and watts of electricity. Now parking companies that retrofit their structures’ lighting fixtures could increase their bottom line even more: Groom states that most of its customers buying their products gain a return on investment in about one year. Groom’s GES fixtures easily replace those bay fixtures ubiquitous on parking garage ceilings across the country, and the product’s design works with existing electrical connections. The results: reduced installation time, less time needed by maintenance staff, and no waste of components.
One of Groom Energy’s customers is Standard Parking, a parking garage management company that operates such facilities across the US. Properties in the Midwest and South have already been retrofitted with the new technology, and more renovations are on the way. Standard Parking estimates that the new fixtures will make parking safer by providing more light, while reducing costs through decreased energy usage.
More cool companies boasting technologies we barely understand will churn out more great products, and I plan on writing about more of them. But Groom Energy is an example of the opportunity that exists in updating buildings that are already standing, such as the ones we are always in a rush to walk out of—parking garages.