Originally posted by Energy Central

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March 21, 2004 | By Stephen Heins

While the worst part of the economic recovery process is probably past, the gut-wrenching changes brought on by the manufacturing sector’s recession of 2001-2003 are likely to be permanent. One clear economic theme has emerged: The necessity to transform as many fixed costs into variable costs as possible. This has forced corporate management to become more proactive, leading to the implementation of large-scale cost containment and improved productivity strategies. To quote poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen, “America has the machinery for change.” And, the survivors in the manufacturing sector prove it. That given, one of the last changes to be made is energy efficient lighting, which offers a large source of sustainable cost containment. In particular, the manufacturing/industrial sector has the potential to save billions and billions of dollars annually by installing energy efficient lighting to replace their aging and technologically out-dated high-bay fixtures. The Energy Efficiency Credibility Gap
While there are probably many reasons for the use of old lighting technology, the single biggest reason must be that energy efficiency as a source of large cost savings has come to lack credibility. Recently, a multi-billion company’s national facility manager noted that, if he saved all of the energy promised him over the years, he wouldn’t have an electric bill! The fact is that for decades the lighting industry has over promised and under-delivered.

Consequently, a key ingredient for demonstrating to a skeptical manufacturing community is the ability to measure and verify the electricity usage “before” and “after” any energy efficient initiative. Through the application of real-time, utility-grade measurement and verification technologies, a company can document the monetary value of displacing capacity to their bottom line. Energy Efficiencies Must Have Strong Return on Investment
The ultimate goal of this new economic model is to reduce enough energy costs to justify the purchase of the energy efficient products or services. This means that a three- year payback, or a return on investment of 33 1/3 % per year, is a basic minimum to prompt a business to use their valuable cash on energy efficiency versus other competing investment opportunities. In most cases, a business needs a return on investment of 50% to ensure that energy efficiency projects get done. The outcome of such a major energy efficiency effort can yield a multitude of benefits for the United States: Improved global competitiveness, lower long-term electric rates, better workplace environs, reduced demand for new power plants and transmission lines, and an overall positive environmental impact.

Current U.S Energy Situation
We are a country at an electricity crossroads. In fact, the U.S. will require 355,000 megawatts (MW) of additional capacity to meet both growth in electricity demand and planned plant retirements, says the EIA, the equivalent of 355 1,000-MW power plants. To ensure that the nation is not plagued by electrical shortages, the choices are obvious: increase output, cut usage or both. As noted, increasing electrical output will continue to be a challenge, even with renewable resources such as wind, biomass, solar and geothermal becoming economically more viable. Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has stated that two-thirds of all energy gains must be made by reducing our electricity consumption. Consequently, energy efficiency is the cornerstone of such a practicable plan. It will provide additional available electrical capacity without the reliability, transmission or environmental concerns usually associated with new power plant initiatives. It is worth mentioning that the cleanest and cheapest kilowatt of electricity is the one not used. State of Lighting Technology
The legacy lighting fixtures, known as High Intensity Discharge or HID, have been the overall lighting of choice for industrial applications like distribution centers, warehouses, production plants and manufacturing facilities for over two decades. There are several reasons for this phenomenon, but it is safe to say that most of the lighting fixtures that are commercially available are the traditional high-intensity discharge (HID) fixtures. Included in this HID category are three fixtures: high-pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide (MH), and mercury vapor (MV). Overall, metal halide is probably the most prevalent of the three. Many American based manufacturers continue to accept the conventional wisdom that HID fixtures represent the state-of-the-art in energy efficient lighting. It has been said that HID fixtures are better sources of heat than light. In fact, most HID fixtures burn at over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of the 120 degrees F of T8’s and 270 degrees F. Another major problem with HID’s is that they lose 30% to 40% of their efficacy within the first year of their usage because of the excessive heat and ballast vibration. While some HID manufacturers have begun marketing a class of ceramic metal halides (MH) that are more efficient, with higher lumen maintenance, better color rending (CRI), and longer life, the new MH are not yet competitively priced. In extreme high and low temperature, HID are still the way to go.

Then, there is the matter of comparing state-of the-art T8 technology with T5 technology. A Midwestern lighting company has conducted a yearlong test of the two lighting platforms. Their overwhelming choice was T8’s with electronic ballasts. In the main, here are the reasons for lighting engineers not favoring T5’s:

  1. They are a non-standard length;
  2. The cost of lamps and ballast are higher;
  3. They are a point source light making them very glary;
  4. They run hot-150 degrees F hotter than T8’s
  5. They have unproven technology, which can create a technology risk;
  6. They use more watts and produce less lumens;
  7. The temperature around the T5 ballast is raised to a level higher than the UL listing, which creates serious liability issues.

This is not to say that T5’s are without merit. They work well as architectural lighting: For example, they are especially good as an up-lighting solution. Additionally, they work well in applications where there are a lot of on/off cycles.

Energy Efficient Lighting’s Best Practices
The latest in lighting science delivers the 50% energy savings (i.e. the latest generation of fluorescent T8 lamp and electronic ballast) and the best reflector design is the art that delivers the 50% to 100% more foot-candles usually found in previously poorly lit facilities. Two more facts favor fluorescent lighting. First, the T8 fluorescent bulb keeps 93% of efficacy over its five-year life. Secondly, the light produced by fluorescent technology is “full spectrum,” which is the equivalent of sunlight at high noon. Like the T5, another important feature is that T8’s have the capability of instant on and off, which means motion and ambient light sensors can used to further reduce electricity consumption during times when a space is not being used or when the sun itself is providing enough light for the space. One last category of fluorescent bulbs is compact fluorescents (CFL). However, with the possible exception of some down lighting and task lighting applications, CFL’s are mainly a residential product. In any case, the best way to choose an industrial lighting fixture is to determine “electrical throughput,” which is to measure the electrical wattage of the fixture times the amount of diffuse foot-candles in the workspace.

Putting Management Back into Demand Side Management
Demand Side Management (DSM) can be defined as the planning, implementation, and monitoring of a company’s energy consumption in order to foster energy efficiency and thereby create energy savings. This is especially important for U.S. businesses, because they consume 70% of the entire electricity supply. Of all the examples for energy savings and energy efficiency, Secretary Abraham points out that lighting is probably the single best place to start a Demand Side Management program for most companies. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting on average consumes 35% of all electricity used by businesses. In the case of warehouses and distribution centers, the percentage is significantly higher. Anecdotal examples of U.S.-based facilities, which have been able to reduce energy costs, would include the following:

  • Quad/Graphics- the largest privately held printer of magazines, catalogs, books, and other commercial products in the Western Hemisphere – expects to save in excess of $2 million per year and 3.5 MW of base load electrical capacity.
  • Bemis Manufacturing of Sheboygan Falls is projected to save between $320,000 to $400,000 per year along with displacing of .75 MW of electricity.
  • Oshkosh Truck, a Wisconsin company who is a large defense contractor and heavy truck manufacturer, is saving over 12 million kWh annually.
  • The Toro Company’s Plymouth, Wisconsin, El Paso, Texas, and Tomah, Wisconsin plants are expected to save a combined $200,000 per year in electricity costs at today’s rates.

Energy Efficiency Rebates and Tax Incentives
Currently, more than thirty individual states offer some kind of rebate program often through their public benefits funds, which are funds a state rises by placing a surcharge on all electricity bills in order to provide financial relief for low-income residents or to fund energy efficiency programs. In addition, many individual utilities offer rebates and/or low cost loans to pay for new energy efficiency initiatives. The federal government also has several energy efficiency programs, which include a shared savings program for federal buildings. Lastly, the new depreciation allowances in the Bush tax cuts of 2003 give companies the ability to take accelerated depreciation. In this case, a company can take 50% deduction in the first year of their capital expenditure for energy efficiency. Businesses Can Become Environmental Leaders
Once done, the most important environmental and economic development benefits to a energy efficient lighting approach are as follows: (1) It is entirely voluntary; (2) It is by definition economically justifiable; (3) The decision makers are the ones who write the checks; (4) It would take as much as 21,000 of megawatts off the grid; (5) It would have an over-sized impact on the environment by reducing the pollution created by out-dated or even newly built power plants; (6) It could be employed tomorrow without legal or political intervention; (7) By using energy efficient strategies, each U.S. company who adopts it can be identified as good corporate citizens with the appropriate positive PR associated with it; (8) It would create a context and an atmosphere where all parties (including taxpayers, voters, politicians, environmentalists, business people, regulators, and utilities) could agree on the societal benefits of reduced energy consumption in any given region of the U.S. The Environmental Impact of Large Amounts of Energy Efficiency
By retro-fitting entire U.S. industrial and commercial sector with energy efficient lighting, the United States could displace over 21,000 Megawatts (MW) of electricity, or the equivalent of forty-three 500MW power plants. The emission/pollution reductions associated with replacing all existing HID fixtures in the commercial and industrial markets with proven energy efficient lighting over ten years is estimated according to EPA guidelines as follows:

  • Carbon Dioxide 1,311,735,096 tons,
  • Carbon 357,713,416 tons
  • Sulfur Dioxide 48,197,121.27 tons
  • Nitrogen Oxide 11,181,986.17 tons
  • Mercury 101.13 tons

These emission reductions over ten years are equivalent to the following:

  • Planting 320,913,780 trees;
  • Removing 247,730,900 cars;
  • Saving 158,998,193,450 gallons of gas;
  • Saving 3,785,671,273 barrels of oil.

U.S. manufacturers finally have an opportunity to invest in new lighting technology that does not require any compromises. Therefore, the installation of energy efficient fixtures, and especially T8 fluorescents with electronic ballasts and parabolic reflectors, creates a win for a long list of beneficiaries: Companies, employees, U.S. economy, city & state environments, and ultimately, all American citizens. With 50% energy savings, 50% more light, and 50% return on investment, energy efficient lighting is that rare example of practical environmentalism.

Finally, all U.S. companies can achieve what was heretofore impossible: save money, improve the workplace, and protect the environment. In addition, each company who adopts energy efficient can rightfully claim credit for the environmental impact off their lighting projects. Undoubtedly, U.S. businesses would then be environmental leaders.