The Retrofit Companies Blog

Lithium Batteries Are a Fire Hazard

lithium ion battery


Is your business in need of a recycling program for lithium batteries? These popular batteries pose dangerous risks and are quickly piling up into hazardous, potentially explosive scenarios in nearly every business you can imagine.


Do I have Lithium Batteries?

Lithium batteries have become common in everyday items, powering our computers, cell phones, pace makers, clocks and even our vehicles; it is more likely than not that you have lithium ion batteries in your facility. They have become the new normal, however many are unaware of the risks that they pose and how to properly dispose of them. With such a large volume of these batteries everywhere, it is vitally important that you and your business are aware of how to properly handle lithium batteries.


Lithium Ion Batteries (1)Lithium Batteries are Commonly Found In:
  • Digital Cameras
  • Clocks
  • Computers
  • Cell Phones
  • Pace Makers
  • Watches
  • Thermometers
  • Laser Pointers
  • MP3 players
  • Calculators
  • Computer backup systems


Why are Lithium Batteries Dangerous?

These batteries are more likely to catch fire than other rechargeable batteries due to their chemistry, containing a flammable electrolyte. These batteries are also pressurized and pack more energy into a small space, causing them to be more popular but also more dangerous.


If the batteries have a flaw, are damaged, overcharged, packed too closely together or are exposed to high temperatures they can overheat. This can be a very dangerous situation where uncontrolled positive feedback can cause other nearby batteries to overheat, triggering a domino effect of what is known as "thermal runaway." 


How do I Properly dispose of them?

To avoid dangerous situations with your lithium batteries, be sure to follow proper disposal guidelines. For full details and up to date information on lithium battery regulations please visit the eCFR - Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. 

 lithium ion batteries


TRC can assist with properly disposing of your lithium ion batteries. Please click below to contact one of our team members and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation


EPA Launches New E-Manifest System


New Regulations for All Hazardous Waste Manifests


EPA E-Manifest Rules Page 1

The EPA is in the final stages of developing their nationwide Electronic Tracking System, with a compliance target date of June 30th, 2018.
Click the button below to learn how TRC is making it easy for you to stay compliant.
EPA E-Manifest Flyer


Customer Spotlight - Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

 Algona Lobby

Algona Municipal Utilities
Algona, MN
"In the process we were able to reduce the amount of energy we use per fixture by 45-50%." - Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

Located in the small town of Algona, Iowa, approximately 3 hours south of the Twin Cities, the Algona Municipal Utilities (AMU) recently renovated their office building. AMU supplies electric, water, cable, internet, and phone to Algona and the surrounding areas and always strives for energy conservation and efficiency. Built in 2003, this office not only needed some remodeling to better suit the needs of their employees and customers, but they also quickly realized that they wanted to couple this remodel with some important lighting upgrades throughout the facility. Ken Gleason, a Senior Sales Executive at The Retrofit Companies, Inc., has been working with Algona and the surrounding areas for 11 years, and was pleased to partner with them for this project. Ken and Steve Grandgenett, the Safety and Energy Efficiency Coordinator at AMU, discussed the priorities of the project, what their company was striving for, and determined their main goals were both aesthetic upgrades to match the look and feel of their office, as well as address energy conservation. Energy reduction and efficiency are cornerstones of both AMU and TRC, making for a very well suited business partnership. 

Photo May 15, 10 00 26 AM


An office remodel often brings forward some lighting issues that can be easily addressed with the proper expertise, and AMU quickly noticed some problems throughout their space. Uneven light levels throughout conference rooms, offices and common areas, as well as frequently failing lamps and ballasts were causing an unnecessary amount of maintenance. This was slowing down regular business, reducing efficiency of their staff and causing unnecessary out of pocket costs for operations. The remodel project also brought forth the desire to upgrade the look of the lights to match the design and functionality throughout the building. 


TRC met with Steve and his team to discuss their specific needs, possible solutions and was shown a fixture selection to ensure AMU found the light fixtures they were really looking for to match their decor. Our lighting experts guided them through this process by providing expertise and unique recommendations for their space. For each area of their facility, for example small spaces with no natural light versus large open areas with high ceilings and windows, multiple solutions were considered based on factors such as frequency of use, the amount of natural daylight and the types of individuals using the space and for what functions. A conference room is better suited to lighting controls, allowing meeting attendees to dim the lights for presentations on a projector, and a lobby area is better suited to controls that automatically adjust according to the amount of natural sunlight through daylight harvesting. Occupancy sensors in the office spaces, as well as new LED fixtures throughout, proved to be an integral part of the lighting redesign. 


When the desired solutions were identified, the project came together quickly and TRC ensured that the installation was done with no interruptions, working around employees’ schedules and also taking into consideration customer traffic. Our design team was able to use customer suggestions along with their lighting design expertise to best fit the needs of AMU.  

For this office space of approximately 8,000 square feet, we reduced the overall lighting energy consumption by 45-50%, and met the needs of all occupants. By switching to LED and smart lighting, the energy savings is equivalent to recycling 4.85 tons of waste instead of landfilling, or the equivalent of reducing greenhouse gases by 13.9 metric tons. 

After a few months of regular usage following the new lighting installations, we checked back in with Steve at AMU to see how things were going with the lighting upgrades. We were pleased to hear that employees felt the space was not only brighter and more evenly lit, but that the controls throughout the facility were truly helping out with employees’ daily functions allowing them to customize their lighting in their own offices as well as saving energy. 



Customer Spotlight Interview with Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

Customer Spotlight - Nate Cardin, Southern Hills Golf Course


Photo May 10, 11 03 44 AM_previewSouthern Hills Golf Course
Farmington, MN
“The first thing that our customers noticed is just how much warmer and inviting the atmosphere was. The Retrofit Companies, Inc. made it so easy.” – Nate Cardin, General Manager


The frustration of continuously changing and replacing burnt out light bulbs and ballasts is a maintenance nightmare for anyone, and Nate Cardin, the General Manager at Southern Hills Golf course, was experiencing this daily hassle before he decided to give TRC a call.


We checked in with Nate to talk about the recent interior lighting renovation and his experience working with TRC. Southern Hills and TRC have partnered many times in the past, and today Nate tells us about their clubhouse remodel and why it was important for them to upgrade their lighting and why he chose to work with TRC.


The new technology has helped reduce their overall energy consumption by nearly 50%, equating to nearly a 50% lighting energy cost savings! That is a huge improvement and TRC worked hard to ensure Southern Hills received their maximum rebate dollars, making the decision even easier to invest in the upgrade.


LuAnn Verduzco, Lighting & Energy Design Consultant at TRC, talked through the maintenance problems that Nate was facing, and what options would best suit their space when replacing the old technology. Nate was looking for new fixture options that would last, require minimum maintenance, as well as enhance their interior decor and highlight the features they were investing in for their clubhouse.


In addition to lowering the required maintenance, the new LED technology that was installed provided a drastic improvement on the distribution and quality of light throughout their entire facility. The changes were noticeable immediately, and both customers and staff alike felt that the new lighting worked with the natural light of the clubhouse and brought a warmth to the space.




Customer Spotlight Interview with Nate Cardin, Southern Hills Golf Course

LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

Employee Spotlight - Brett Weber



TRC has always focused on hiring great people to become part of the TRC family, and now it's time for you to get to know our employees a little bit better. Beyond their expertise, our team brings a unique mix of backgrounds, hobbies and special skills to the table. Check us out!


Employee Spotlight Brett Weber

Introducing Brett Weber

Brett joined TRC just over 6 months ago, and already he has become part of the family by connecting with both our employees and customers. You will find Brett bright and early in the office supporting both the Sales and Customer Service components of the business, not to mention his keen ability to make a fine cup of coffee.


You can always count on Brett for a great story about a recent athletic adventure, whether it's hockey, softball or golf. This guy was the class clown growing up, and we get to enjoy his laughter and spirit every day. Check out the video below to get to know more about Brett!



Name and Title

Brett Weber, Account Manager


How long have you been with TRC and what do you like most about working here?

About 6 months. A lot of companies will say it's like a family, but here you actually feel it on a daily basis. Whether you've been here twenty years or 1 week, everyone treats each employee with the same respect.

Before working at TRC, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

I was a pool boy...and it's not all that it's cracked up to be. A lot of weird animals end up in pools.

What did you want to be growing up?

Sports Center Anchor was one of my dream jobs. I would have to come up with my own catch phrase.


What is something about you that would surprise people?

I played a year of junior hockey after high school. I got into probably 5 fights that year; one of them I definitely lost. My career hockey fighting record is 4-1, so I'm satisfied with that.


What is your favorite movie?

Happy Gilmore. It combines both golf and hockey and it's a classic.


What are your hobbies outside of work?

I'm in a golf league, softball league, and hockey league. I like to stay active.

Industry Expert NALMCO Highlights LED Project

LM&M Magazine


A Must-Read in the Lighting Industry.

LM&M, the official NALMCO publication, provides information on the latest industry trends and developments in planned lighting maintenance and lighting technology — content that’s beneficial for NALMCO members as well as owner-occupiers and other industry professionals.  


TRC is thrilled to grace the pages of the NALMCO LM&M Magazine as a featured Project Spotlight in the newly released May issue. NALMCO is an organization that has really set the standard for Lighting Quality Management and brings together business experts in the Lighting Industry.

We are a proud member of NALMCO and are honored to share our case study, focusing on LED lighting, design and energy savings in schools and school districts, with the loyal LM&M readers. We get a lot of questions from our customers regarding success stories that they can relate to, and so many businesses face similar challenges to those that were resolved in this project. Check out the original case study Lakeville School District - Lighting Case Study.


LM&M May Cover



Are these issues sounding familiar? Take a look at our Investment Grade Audit E-Book to learn why this the likely the next step for you.get a smart start to your lighting projectReady to take that next step and improve your lighting? Have questions about if you should go with LED lights and why?

Talk to a Lighting Expert



Customer Spotlight - Bob Shellen, Amesbury Truth


Amesbury Truth-1Amesbury Truth, Owatonna, MN
Manufacturer of Window and Door Products
“Michelle, Jeff and her team have done very well taking care of Amesbury Truth; not just our universal and non-hazardous waste, but hazardous as well.” – Bob Shellen, Amesbury Truth


Today we checked in with Bob at Amesbury Truth in Owatonna, MN to talk about their business and working with TRC.

We have partnered on both Environmental Services projects and Lighting projects over the years, and today Bob tells us about one of the very first projects that was a success and why he continues to work with TRC.




Customer Spotlight Interview with Bob Shellen, Amesbury Truth
Lab Packs, Universal Waste, Hazardous Waste, Chemical Waste

Request a recycling pick up

Community Recycling Events in 2018


TRC Collection Event - Steele County Owatonna Recycling


Despite our extended winter weather, spring really is coming!

Every year The Retrofit Companies, Inc. partners with communities across the Upper Midwest to host Recycling Collection Events, accepting things like:


  • Electronic waste
  • Appliances
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Batteries
  • Ballasts...and more!

All scheduled events for 2018 are listed below, with more information on our Facebook page. Find the event near you!

Is your community interested in holding a community recycling day? Check out our easy how-to blog post.



April Collection Events 

Wednesday,  April 11th - Winona County 

Maplewood COllection 2017 2
    • 225 W 2nd St, Winona, MN 55987 
    • 12pm-3pm 
    • Collecting Lamps/Ballasts 
    • For residents of Winona County only 
    • Click HERE for more information 

Saturday, April 21st – Clay County FLYER

  • 205 Front St., N, Barnsville MN 56514 
  • 8am-12pm 
  • Collecting Electronics 
  • Free for residents of Clay County 


Saturday, April 21st – Maplewood FLYER

  • 1850 White Bear Ave., Maplewood MN 55109 
  • 8-1pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 
  • For a full list of items accepted and associated fees, please see the Maplewood Spring Clean-Up Flyer HERE 


Saturday, April 28th – Roseville FLYER

  • Dale Street Soccer Field Parking Lot 
  • 2555 Dale St., Roseville MN 55113 
  • 8-3pm 
  • Collecting Electronics 
  • For residents of Roseville only 
  • Click HERE for full list of fees and information from the city.  

 Saturday, April 28th – Vadnais Heights FLYER 

  • Community Park 
  • 661 E County Road F., Vadnais Heights, MN 55127 
  • 8-2pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 
  • For residents of Vadnais Heights only 
  • Click HERE for full list of accepted items and fees. 

May collection events

Thursday, May 3rd - Martin County 
  • Fairmont Former K-Mart Parking Lot 
  • 1215 N State St, Fairmont, MN 56031 
  • 9-1pm 
  • Collecting Fluorescent Bulbs & Ballasts 
  • Click HERE for full list of accepted items and fees. 


 Saturday, May 5th - White Bear Lake 

  • Public Works Building 
  • 4200 Hoffman Road, White Bear Lake, MN 55110 
  • 7am-1pm 
  • Collecting Electronics, Appliances and Lamps 
  • Click HERE for full list of accepted items and fees 
  • For residents of White Bear Lake only 


Saturday, May 12th - Clay County/Moorhead 

  • 1300 15th Ave. N., Moorhead, MN 56560 
  • 8am-12pm 
  • Collecting Electronics 
  • FREE for Clay County residents Maplewood Collection 2017


Saturday, May 12th – Austin FLYER 

  • Mower County Fair Grounds 
  • 700 12th St. SW, Austin, MN 55912 
  • 9-2pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 
  • For residents of Austin only 

Saturday, May 12th - East Grand Forks 

  • 1001 2nd Street NE, E. Grand Forks, MN 56721 
  • 9am-3pm 
  • Collecting batteries, lamps, electronics, ballasts 
  • Click HERE for full list of accepted items and fees 


Friday, May 18th – Freeborn County FLYER 

  • Freeborn County Fairgrounds 
  • 1031 Bridge Ave, Albert Lea, MN 56007 
  • 10-2pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 
  • For residents of Freeborn County only 


Saturday, May 19th – Clay County/Hawley 

  • 716 Front Street, Hawley, MN 56549 
  • 8am-12pm 
  • Collecting Electronics 
  • Free for Clay County Residents 

 Austin Colleciton

Saturday, May 19th – Shoreview 

  • 1425 Paul Kirkwold Drive, Arden Hills, MN 55112 
  • 7am-1pm 
  • Collecting electronics 
  • For residents of Shoreview & Arden Hills 
  • Click HERE for full list of accepted items and fees 


Thursday, May 24th – Clay County Business Collection 

  • 8am-10:30am - Landfill 
    • 716 Front Street, Hawley, MN 
  • 12pm-4pm - Moorhead 
    • Family Service Center7th Avenue & 9th Street NMoorhead, MN  
  • Collecting lamps, ballasts, electronics 
  • Click HERE for location, accepted items and fees 


Thursday, May 31st - Mille Lacs/Milaca FLYER 

  • Mille Lacs County Public Works Garage 
  • 565 8th Street NE, Milaca, MN 
  • 3pm-7pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 
  • Click HERE for more information 


June Collection Events

Saturday, June 2nd – Owatonna/Steele County FLYER Maplewood Colleciton 2017 3 Lines

  • The Retrofit Companies, Inc. 
  • 1010 Hoffman Drive, Owatonna, MN 55060 
  • 9-1pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 


 Saturday, June 2nd – Cook County/Grand Marais FLYER 

  • Cook County Recycling Center 
  • 630 5th Ave. W, Grand Marais, MN 55604 
  • 9-1pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 


Thursday, June 7th - Mille Lacs/Wahkon FLYER 

  • Mille Lacs County Public Works North Maintenance Facility 
  • 6813 Highway 27, Wahkon, MN 
  • 3pm-7pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 
  • Click HERE for more information 


Saturday, June 16th - Aitkin County 

  • 36488 400th Ave, Aitkin, MN 56431, United States 
  • Click HERE for more information 
  • 10-2pm 
  • Collecting Electronics 


July collection events

Saturday, July 21st – Cook County/Tofte FLYER 

  • Tofte Transfer Station 
  • 198 Sawbill Trail, Tofte, MN 55615 
  • 9-1pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 


September collection events

 Friday, September 21st – Freeborn County FLYER 

  • Freeborn County Fairgrounds 
  • 1031 Bridge Ave, Albert Lea, MN 56007 
  • 10-2pm 
  • Collecting Electronics & Appliances 
  • For residents of Freeborn County onlyFollow us on Facebook for new events and the latest updates!

Would you prefer to schedule a recycling pickup for your business?

Request a recycling pick up

Employee Spotlight - Michelle Gwin


TRC has always focused on hiring great people to become part of the TRC family, and now it's time for you to get to know our employees a little bit better. Beyond their expertise, our team brings a unique mix of backgrounds, hobbies and special skills to the table. Check us out!


Michelle Gwin_headshot-1-284350-edited.jpg

Introducing Michelle Gwin

On any given day you can find her interacting with customers, keeping spirits high around the office and making sure our Environmental Services are thriving.


Michelle has been with TRC for 10 years coming up in September, 2018 and has grown with the company, now representing Business Development in the Environmental Services division.


Outside of work you may find Michelle enjoying a new favorite craft beer, getting physical on her Roller Derby team, or having fun outdoors at her family cabin on the boat, the ATV's or on a hike!



Name and Title

Michelle Gwin, Business Development


How long have you been with TRC and why do you choose to work here?

10 years coming up in September. I love working here because it's basically like working for a family. We work hard, we play hard, we hang out outside of work, it's a fun time.


What do you like most about working at TRC?

Definitely the people. Where else can you find a company that is environmentally friendly, locally owned, small business, and cares about every single one of their customers and employees? It's a phenomenal company to work for.

Before working at TRC, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

I used to sell Real Estate for 10 years and have seen just about anything you can imagine in people's home. Yeah, that got weird.

What is one of your guilty pleasures?

Craft Beer. I love traveling to different states, trying new breweries and different styles of beer. 


What is something about you that would surprise people?

I have decided, at the age of 42, to start a Roller Derby team. I'm going to be the President of the Owatonna Steel Wheels, and we are hoping to have our first bout in 2019! I'm hoping to create some diversity in the community I live in.


What is your favorite movie, book or band?

There's Something About Mary is definitely my favorite movie. She is quirky and I can relate to that!


If you could be any super hero, who would you be?

Wonder Woman.


What are your hobbies outside of work?

Roller Derby, total body workout classes, and my kids!


What would be a dream vacation?

My dream vacation would be to sit on a beach in Hawaii for a week, or two. I would bring my daughter.


What did you want to be growing up?

A firefighter. I thought it would be cool to lug somebody over your shoulder.


5 Ways Lighting Can Save Our Planet


Chances are that your business has discussed ways to limit their carbon footprint, be more environmentally friendly and maybe even kick starting some green initiatives. Learn more about how easy it is have a positive impact on our planet with this 5 Easy Ways Lighting Can Save Our Planet infographic. 


Lighting Can Save the Planet - Infographic

How-To Find the Best Energy Rebates



You probably know that there are a lot of energy rebates out there that may save you money upfront or have a great payback in the end. But are you sure you are maximizing your savings through energy rebate programs? Do you hear about rebate programs in your area but are not sure what you quality for?

TRC has a team of experts that help you find rebates through utility companies and other programs to reduce upfront costs and increase your payback. We pride ourselves on serving our customers with a full service rebate program from start to finish, providing the research, expertise and best possible options for each project as we stay on top of the ever-changing rebate programs.

Step 1: Make rebates easy

This is the easy part, just call one of our experts and we will help you find the best rebate programs in your area.

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

But if you want to know a little bit more before calling...

Step 2: Know your market

The LED market is expanding rapidly and this energy-efficient lighting is becoming more affordable. The utility companies are adjusting the rebate levels based on these trends. Rebates for some LED lighting categories have reduced in 2018, but new lighting categories get added to the rebate programs as the lighting technologies continue to change and develop. There is still time to take advantage of the opportunity to save on your energy efficient LED lighting.

Step 3: find the right rebate program

We can help you determine what programs you qualify for and where you can maximize your savings. Many businesses will qualify for programs under the following utilities, however most utility companies (small or large) offer some sort of rebate program. Call us and we will do the work for you!

Xcel Energy

  • Prescriptive and custom rebates
  • Larger users often qualify for Xcel rebates
  • Rebate Finder Tool

New Call-to-action

CEE (Xcel Energy territory program)

  • Calculated based off of total energy savings
  • If you are a smaller user within an Xcel territory, you may qualify for these rebates

SMMPA (Southern MN Municipal Power Agency)

  • Prescriptive and custom rebates

Step 4: take it a step further for more savings

Have you considered installing lighting controls in your building for even greater savings? Lighting controls can save thousands on annual energy bills while increasing comfort in your building and making it easier to run. As part of Xcel Energy’s Efficiency Controls program, you may qualify for a cash incentive that corresponds to the energy-savings potential of your control system.

The more energy your project saves, the more your business can earn rebate dollars.

  New Call-to-action

By working with our rebate experts, you could be saving your business hundred or thousands of dollars just by letting us guide you. It’s so easy, call us and we will walk you through the simple steps.

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant


Lakeville School District - Lighting Case Study


Lakeville Schools (MN) and The Retrofit Companies, Inc. (TRC) recently partnered to discuss the district’s 2 and 10 year plans at Eastview Elementary School. Both of the strategic plans included goals of implementing energy saving lighting solutions across the entire district. Specifically, the 2 and 10 year plans included exterior lighting along with a parking lot that needed to be completely replaced. The goal was to complete these projects by the end of summer 2017 before the start of the school year. These projects were a combination of replacing old, damaged light poles, with new, and replacing all of the existing inefficient exterior lighting. This school would be the first of many completed during the first two years of their strategic plan. With a goal of improving light quality, increasing light levels, while creating a standard technology for the school district, Sara Guyette of Lakeville Schools and LuAnn Verduzco of TRC developed a plan to perform a study on the exterior lighting along with a district wide study to replace all interior and exterior existing metal-halide inefficient and unsafe fixtures. Partnering with TRC, Lakeville School District was able to make an educated decision to properly address their lighting concerns while implementing energy savings.


BEFORE: Parking lot with light pollution


The district lacked a focused energy-efficient plan that could be utilized across the board, and with multiple goals in their strategic plans, Sara and the Board saw the value in partnering with lighting design and energy efficiency experts at TRC to help them address their needs.


AFTER: Parking Lot with no light pollution


Lakeville partnered with TRC to conduct the district wide Investment Grade Audit to determine the full extent of their lighting needs. Photometric layouts were also provided to Lakeville Schools to ensure industry standard light levels would be installed and would meet their long term strategic goals. Through the study, Lakeville decided to move forward and requested competing bids using the equal scope of work, fixture specifications, and performance standards. TRC was awarded the work and recommended the proper solutions and design expertise for their parking lot and exterior lighting as the first phase of their district wide strategic plan.

Lakeville photometrics.pngEastview Elementary School Exterior Photometrics

Implementing the project presented certain challenges across the board, including construction deadlines and project management for all key partners involved in the total project. With a parking lot replacement, there is a strategic plan involved all the way from coordination of materials, the architect, the sub-contractors and the building engineers being available to provide access to the building when needed.  Some unforeseen circumstances came up during the project, but TRC and all other partners involved were able to work an alternate schedule to ensure the project was wrapped up before the start of the school year. Having confidence and trust in the vendors and contractors that you use for projects is vital to timely implementation and problem solving.


BEFORE: Basketball Court 


  • Replace and recycle all metal halide and other inefficient fixtures
  • Drastically improved light quality, distribution and levels
  • Decreased lighting energy costs by 44%
  • Annual energy savings of $2,500.00/yr.
  • Simple payback of 7.35 years
  • Cut maintenance costs, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty, minimum of 10 year life rating on new fixture components
  • New fixtures contain no mercury and are much better for the environment


AFTER: Basketball Court


  • Carbon Savings: greenhouse gas reduction metric tons equivalent to 22.7
  • Passenger cars not driven for one year: 4.4
  • Gallons of gasoline saved: 2,540.50
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation: 0.22
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled: 7.90


Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

 IMG_5852_ARROW EDIT.jpg

It is undisputed that LED lamps have become the leading lighting technology, offering the benefits of energy savings, longevity and quality of light. With the rise of their popularity, several of our customers have inquired as to the regulations regarding their proper disposal and recycling.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s publication W-HW4-62: “Although the bulb portion of most light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are not hazardous and thus not (Universal Waste) lamps, the circuit board to which the LEDs are attached is a regulated electronic waste in Minnesota.” See more from the MPCA on E-waste recycling here.

Some of the reasoning behind the MPCA’s decision to regulate these devices is found in the materials used to construct the lamps themselves. Circuit boards have long been known to contain toxic lead solder (along with several other toxic substances), and is regulated in the State of Minnesota.

To help illustrate the situation, we have taken apart several screw-in style LED bulbs to show the hidden circuit board. Red arrows annotate the photographs and highlight the silver colored solder.


 If you happen to be outside of the State of Minnesota, be sure to check with your local authorities as to the regulations in your area. Even if your State permits you to “throw them away”, the better choice is to recycle them. After all, why would you just landfill them, knowing that your decision will have a lasting impact on our environment, and the world that our children will inherit.

With over 25 years in the lighting and environmental business, we know about LED lighting and waste regulations!

If you have any questions or would like more information regarding the regulations of LED lamps and fixtures: 

Consult our haz waste team

If you have not yet made the change to LED lighting, we can help there too! There are many things to consider when making the move to LED; don't take on the project alone:  

Consult a Lighting Pro










Choosing a Reputable Partner Minimizes Your Risks for Regulated Waste Related Fines


One of the most important concepts for generators of waste to understand is Cradle-to-Grave.  You can see the EPA’s definition HERE.  But, in a nut shell, this means that the generator of waste is responsible to ultimate disposal.  Nothing will relinquish a generator of this responsibility and there’s no expiration date or time limit.  Hiring someone else to transport and dispose of your waste does NOT transfer responsibility. 

Read more:


Recently, charges have been filed against two vendors who were previously trusted to properly handle their clients’ waste.

Luminaire Environmental and Technologies Inc. Plymouth, MN

Recycletronics Sioux City, IA

Because the actions of your chosen vendors can also negatively affect your company image, as well as result in fines and other additional fees for you, it’s important to know the following about anyone you allow to manage your regulated waste:

  • Can they provide names and contacts to current customers (similar to you) as references?
  • Does the vendor have adequate insurance? They should be able to provide not only commercial liability, but also pollution coverage.
  • Where does the waste go? Can the vendor provide all downstream channel and facility information?
  • What documentation and paperwork is provided? Depending on the waste type, waste profiles and hazardous waste manifests may be required. Certificates of Recycling/disposal should be provided every shipment, and your vendor should be able to provide you with usage reports, as requested.

You should be prepared and have a plan. [Check out our blog for help preparing a waste management plan.] Monitor and manage your plan, and the service provided to ensure you are in compliance should never be overlooked.

At The Retrofit Companies, your environmental compliance is our top priority. We offer a range of environmental services, assisting with material inventories, legal documentation, and access to approved packaging options. In addition to proper shipping procedures and an extensive network of disposal partners, rest assured that your waste handling and recycling needs are covered by TRC. We're here to be the hazardous waste recycling and disposal partner you are looking for.  

Consult our haz waste team


Another interview with Darin at Wausau Supplies : Exterior Lighting LED upgrade

Wausau Sign.jpg

Darin is the Central Regional Manager for Wausau Supply, overseeing five Wausau Supply locations. As you may remember, Darin has provided us with great feedback on the previous lighting upgrade/energy projects that we have worked on in the past.

(In case you missed it, here is his last interview: )

Earlier this year, we completed his exterior lighting LED upgrade project, and he was nice enough to let us know how it went.

What problems or issues did you have with your exterior lighting, and what were you hoping to accomplish with this lighting upgrade project?

"The outside of our building had traditional metal-halide bulbs on the building and on light posts.

Very poor lighting and not cost effective at all…We were throwing money away!!

It also was very unsafe since we have employees coming in at all times of the morning and they could not see ice in front of them."


What solution did The Retrofit Companies bring to you to address these issues?

"TRC came out and analyzed the situation and came up with a great, cost effective option

LED lighting …strategically placed so we could get the most bang for our buck

Now when it is dark outside these lights come on and light up the place just like it was daylight outside!!

Very impressive! Satisfaction beyond our expectations!!"


Why did you chose The Retrofit Companies to be your partner on this project?

"We used TRC on several other projects and they did an awesome job for us. So when it was time to make the move to LED, it was a pretty easy decision, once they showed us what they could do to  solve our problem. The rebates were an added bonus…payback will be pretty quick compared to our old lighting."

Any other thoughts that you have on the project, your sales rep, or TRC in general?

"Working with good, honest people always helps to calm any concerns we might have!"



Wausau before.jpg



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Did this interview help you get some insight on what it's like to work with The Retrofit Companies? You can read more customer stories here, get our guide to help you ask the right questions when choosing a partner for your next lighting project, or just schedule a call with one of our lighting specialists!

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

read more case studies on TRC blog

Xcel Energy Efficiency Awards 2017

Thank you to Xcel Energy, once again, for including The Retrofit Companies in this year's Energy Efficiency Partner Award recipients! This is the 3rd year in a row that TRC has received this award. (See 2015 Award and 2016 Award)

Please read below for their press release and information on the recent awards event:


Greg Olson of Xcel Energy presents the Energy Efficiency Partner award to Wendy Fry and Jake Andrist on May 4th, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (MAY 11, 2017) – Xcel Energy recently recognized 39 Minnesota businesses for their outstanding efforts to help customers save energy and reduce their environmental impact. The awards, presented May 4 at Pinstripes in Edina, recognized the top contractors, equipment suppliers and engineers that contributed the greatest electricity and natural gas savings to Xcel Energy’s Minnesota conservation programs in 2016. These are the top 39 trade partners out of the 1,475 partners working with Xcel Energy.

The rebates submitted by these 39 companies saved customers 81 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 54,000 dekatherms of natural gas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, that’s the equivalent of powering 8,800 homes for a year.

Xcel Energy offers incentives, such as rebates and funding for energy efficiency studies and upgrades, to its business and residential customers to encourage them to make energy-efficient choices. Through the help of this group of partners, Xcel Energy distributed more than $5 million in energy efficiency rebates for the various projects completed, which is about 15 percent of the total amount of rebates paid in Minnesota by Xcel Energy last year.

The rebates dollars also helped fund capital projects and create jobs. The Minnesota Department of Commerce reports an 80 percent increase in energy efficiency businesses in Minnesota since 2000 and a 49 percent increase in energy efficiency jobs.

“Xcel Energy’s trade partners are valuable allies that really make these projects happen,” said Greg Olson, Xcel Energy trade relations manager. “They help us reach our aggressive energy conservation goals, save customers money and help them reduce their environmental impact.”

The 39 companies recognized were: Apadana ● Apollo Heating and Ventilating ● Campbell-Sevey Inc. ● Home Service Plus ● Coles Electric, Inc. ● Compressed Air Concepts LLC ● Corporate Mechanical ● Data Center Systems Inc. ● Egan Company ● Energy Management Collaborative ● Graybar – Minneapolis Branch ● Golden Valley Heating & Air ● HomeSmart ● Inflow ● Ingersoll Rand Minnesota ● JIT Energy Services ● John Henry Foster ● Johnson Controls Plymouth ● JT Electric Service Inc. ● Louis Degidio Inc. ● Master Mechanical ● Midwest Mechanical Solutions ● MSP Plumbing, Heating & Air ● Mulcahy Company Inc. ● NHA Heating and Air Conditioning ● Northern Air Corp. ● Noble Conservation Solutions ● Premier Lighting Inc. ● Pronto Heating & Air Conditioning ● Standard Heating & Air Conditioning ● State Supply ● Strebe Energy Services ● The Retrofit Companies ● The Snelling Company ● Trane St. Paul ● UHL Company ● Viking Electric Minneapolis ● Voss Lighting ● Yale Mechanical

For more information on Xcel Energy’s energy efficiency programs, visit


For additional information on rebates and programs contact us for a consult any time!

Talk to a Consultant About Rebates

Tank Talk: Tank Maintenance and Cleaning Services

To continue to provide the environmental services that our customers need from us. We have recently started promoting our tank cleaning and maintenance services.

Tanks can be found in all kinds of buildings, including schools, manufacturing, and any building that, at one point, used a boiler. Some tanks will get used and maintenanced regularly, while others will be forgotten, until there is an issue.

We can help with either scenario, no matter what type of tank it is. Let's take a look at the different kinds of tanks that require service and cleaning: 

Neutralization Tanks:

Neutralization tanks are attached to sewer lines and serve to neutralize any acids prior to discharging into the sewer system.  These tanks are commonly found in schools and other lab-type facilities, where chemicals get, intentionally and unintentionally, poured down the drain. Even if no acids are being sewered, the tanks still fill up with sediment and can clog over time. 

Here is a diagram of a tank to give you a better idea of how they work.  Our service includes removal of old rock/sludge, packaging, testing, disposal, and installation of new rock.  The old rock/sludge can have enough heavy metals built up to be regulated as hazardous waste, testing will inform that process.

Tank Diagram.jpg

Holding Tanks:

Holding tanks are used in all kinds of manufacturing processes.  Anytime a manufacturer has large quantities of liquid product that they need to hold and use continuously they’re likely to have some sort of tank system for storage. The tanks are used to store a product necessary for the manufacturing process.  Regardless of the product, these tanks will occasionally need to be cleaned out to remove sedimentary buildup, impurities, and to check the tank integrity.  Often times, holding tank work is completed during regular plant closures in order to avoid interrupting the manufacturing process. 

Maintenance Equipment/Tanks

If your facility operates a boiler, it’s likely you have back-up fuel tanks to continue operation in the absence of municipal gas.  Virtually every school and multi-story office building is operating a boiler. 

These tanks vary greatly in size depending on the size of the boiler.  Many facilities are switching from #6 fuel oil to #2 fuel oil.  If this is happening in your facility, the old #6 tanks need to be cleaned out before they can be decommissioned.  Additionally, the #2 fuel oil tanks may require maintenance due to contamination or gelling of oil. 

Download our Tank Cleaning Profile to gather information on your tanks. Then, consult our team to help get your tank service scheduled!

Get the Industrial Tank Cleaning Profile Form


Consult our haz waste team




Community Recycling Events in 2017

 Believe it or not, Spring is coming and so is Collection season! Every year The Retrofit Companies partners up with communities across the Upper Midwest to host Recycling Collection Events, accepting things like electronic waste, appliances, fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, and ballasts for recycling.

All scheduled events for 2017 are listed below, with more information on our Facebook page.

Do you want to learn more about how your community or your business can plan a recycling collection?


APRIL 22nd

City of Barnesville, MN (Clay County)

FREE Residential Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

205 Front Street North

Barnesville, MN 56514


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


City of Vadnais Heights, MN

Electronic and Appliance Waste Recycling Collection Event

651 East County Road F

Vadnais Heights, MN 55127


Waste Collected- Appliances and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


City of Maplewood, MN

Electronic and Appliance Waste Recycling Collection Event

Aldrich Arena

1850 White Bear Avenue North

Maplewood, MN 55109


Waste Collected- Appliances and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


APRIL 24th-MAY 8th

City of Little Canada (Drop-off @ The Retrofit Companies)

Electronic and Universal Waste Recycling Drop-off Event

2960 Yorkton Blvd

Little Canada, MN 55127


Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps, non-PCB ballasts, batteries, appliances and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.

Fee Schedule

Screened items (TVs and Monitors) -$15.00 each

All other Non-Screen E-waste (computers, laptops, printers, etc.)- FREE

Microwaves- $25.00 each

Ballasts- $5.00 each

Fluorescent lamps- $1.00 each

Broken fluorescent lamps- $5.00 each


City of Moorhead, MN (Clay County)

FREE Residential Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

1300 15TH Avenue North

Moorhead, MN 55127


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


City of Roseville, MN

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

2555 Dale Street

Roseville, MN 55113


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


MAY 4th

City of Ada, MN (Al’s Disposal)

Universal Waste Recycling Collection Event

808 East Main Street

Ada, MN 56510


Waste Collected-Batteries, fluorescent lamps, and ballasts


City of Fairmont, MN

County Residents- Lamp and Ballast Waste Recycling Collection Event

1215 North State Street

(Old K-Mart Parking lot)

Fairmont, MN 56031


Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps and ballasts.


MAY 6th

City of White Bear Lake, MN

Lamps, Appliance and Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

4200 Hoffman Road

Public Works Building

White Bear Lake, MN 55110


Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps, Appliances, and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


City of East Grand Forks, MN

E-waste and Universal Waste Recycling Collection Event

1001 2nd Street NE

East grand Forks, MN 56721


Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps, ballasts, batteries, , and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


Keep Columbus Beautiful-Columbus, NE

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

First United Methodist Church

2710 14th Street

Columbus, NE 68608


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


MAY 13th

City of Austin

Electronic Waste and Appliance Recycling Collection Event

Mower County Fairgrounds

700 12TH Street SW

Austin, MN 55912


Waste Collected- Appliances and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.

NOT ACCEPTING: fluorescent lamps, broken glass/lamps, Mercury containing devices, smoke detectors, liquid waste, PCB ballasts or capacitors, or any other hazardous waste.

Fee Schedule

CRT/Flat TVs and Monitors- $10.00 each Console/Projection TVs- $15.00 each

Household Appliances (White Goods)- $20.00 each

Microwaves and Small household Appliances- $5.00 each

*Freon Appliances- add $25.00 each

Computer/Laptops, hard drives, printers, copiers, vacuum cleaners, large speakers- $2.00 each

*Hard drive cleansing- add $25.00 each

Mice, Keyboards, computer speakers, cables, and wires- FREE

City of Hawley, MN (Clay County)

FREE Residential Electronic Waste Collection Event

716 Front Street

Hawley, MN 56549


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


MAY 20th

City of Albert Lea (Freeborn County)

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

Freeborn County Fairgrounds

1031 Bridge Avenue

Albert Lea, MN 56007


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.

Fee Schedule:

TVs and Monitors (CRT and Flat)- $15.00 each

Console and Projections TVs- $20.00 each

Computers, laptops, printers, copiers, speakers, microwaves, small household appliances- $3.00 each

Misc. cables, mice and keyboards- FREE

City of Shoreview, MN

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

1425 Paul Kirkwold Drive

Arden Hills, MN 55112


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


Owatonna, MN-Steele County

Universal and Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

The Retrofit Companies

1010 Hoffman Drive

Owatonna, MN 55060


Waste Collected- fluorescent lamps, Mercury devices, batteries, ballasts, appliances, and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.

Fee Schedule:

Fluorescent lamps- $0.50 each

HID and Shatterproof lamps- $1.00 each

Incandescent and LED lamps- $0.25 each

Mercury devices and Non-PCB ballasts- $5.00 each

Alkaline, NiCad, Sealed Lead Acid Batteries- $0.50 per lb.

TVs and Computer Monitors (CRT and Flat)- $20.00 each

Computers, Laptops, printers, copiers- $3.00 each

Mice, keyboards, cables, and all other misc. E-waste- FREE

Household Appliances- $20.00 each


City of Hawley, MN (Clay County)

Business Waste Collection Event

3301 190th Street

Hawley, MN 56549


Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps, ballasts, and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.


City of Moorhead, MN (Clay County)

Business Waste Collection Event-

1300 15TH Avenue North

Moorhead, MN 55127


Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps, ballasts, and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.




JUNE 3rd

City of Grand Marais (Cook County)

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

630 5th Avenue West

Grand Marais, MN 55604


Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps, ballasts, batteries, appliances, and E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.

Fee Schedule:

TVs and Monitors (CRT and Flat)- $15.00 each

All other E-waste- FREE

Household Appliances and Microwaves- $25.00 each

Small household appliances- FREE

JUNE 10th

City of Aitkin, MN (Aitkin County)

FREE Residential Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

Aitkin County Recycling Center

36488 400th Avenue

Aitkin, MN 56431


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.



City of Grand Marais (Cook County)

Residential Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

630 5th Avenue West

Grand Marais, MN 55604


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.

Fee Schedule:

TVs and Monitors (CRT and Flat)- $15.00 each

All other E-waste- FREE

Household Appliances and Microwaves- $25.00 each

Small household appliances- FREE


City of Albert Lea (Freeborn County)

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

Freeborn County Fairgrounds

1031 Bridge Avenue

Albert Lea, MN 56007


Waste Collected- E-waste: TVs, Monitors, Computers, Laptops, Printers, Copiers Cell Phones, Phones, Mice, Keyboards, Cables, small Household appliances, and all other electronic waste.

Fee Schedule:

TVs and Monitors (CRT and Flat)- $15.00 each

Console and Projections TVs- $20.00 each

Computers, laptops, printers, copiers, speakers, microwaves, small household appliances- $3.00 each

Misc. cables, mice and keyboards- FREE events being added to TRC's Facebook Events as they are scheduled. Be sure to follow us for these notifications.

Interview with Darin at Wausau Supplies : HID to T8 to LED


Wausau Sign.jpg


About Darin & his work at Wausau Supply:

I’m currently Central Regional Manager for Wausau Supply, so I have five locations I watch over. I started in 2000 at Wausau Supply and came in as a day shift manager. I progressed to Operations manager, running just this location. After that I started the position they call District Manager, doing what I do now for the Central Region, watching over five locations.

Sounds busy! Are all of your locations in Minnesota?

It’s quite a bit of travel. The locations I oversee are in Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas.

I know you’ve worked with TRC in the past on projects at one of your facilities back in 2009, and again most recently in 2016 on a different lighting project – can you tell me about that?

The first project was in 2009, and that was to address the metal halide bulbs that we had. We saved a ton of money when we switched to T8’s, which was the most current technology at the time. We still have that system in the warehouse. It saved a lot of money and it’s still saving compared to what it would have been if we continued to use metal halide.

Then we were talking to TRC rep, LuAnn, and she was proposing LED lights for us. We decided to give them a try in the space for this most recent 2016 project, and they’re fabulous. The lighting is so much better. You can see all the way to the ground underneath the shelves even. Before the upgrade, the bottom shelf would be dark. With the LED lights we get all the way down there and can see things on the bottom.

How did you originally connect with The Retrofit Companies?

One of your sales people just stopped in. The rebates were really good back then, 2008 or 2007, and she stopped in and said, “Do you mind if I take a look in your warehouse to see what you have for lighting?” And we said yes. So they looked at it and said, “We could really save you a lot of money if you just let us give a proposal to you.” We sat and listened, and ended up rolling out that plan at five or six other locations.

We knew it was kind of dumb to have metal halides, even at that time, when there’s so much better technology out there.

For your most recent LED project, you decided to purchase the Investment Grade Audit reports from TRC. Did you take that plan to any other contractors to get comparison bids?

No, but since we have a pretty good relationship with TRC, every once in a while someone will randomly stop in and want to propose to us. Then I’ll send it on to LuAnn, and say, “LuAnn, shoot some holes in this proposal for me.” She’ll say, “Oh my gosh, they’re not even talking about this!” or “They don’t even know the lighting level.” The competition is just trying to undercut everybody, and a few years down the road you’re probably not going to be too happy with it.

With the investment grade audit you know what to expect. It does cost a little bit more, but then you do know what you’re getting and they ask for your input, too.

The next project we’ve already greenlighted is the exterior lighting. It’s all metal halide and long overdue. Your team looked through it, asked some questions and determined that we needed one more light on a building. So, they’re redesigning it a bit based on our conversation.

So, you’ve seen a difference between The Retrofit Companies and our competitors?

I feel more comfortable that TRC is doing a complete job. We don’t want the cheapest job, we want a complete job – something you’re going to stand behind, that you’re going to do it the way that we want it, and listen to us. We’ve found that to be true with The Retrofit Companies, so I haven’t really needed to competitively shop.

Back in 2009, the TRC rep presented an opportunity to save with your upgrade from metal halide (HID) to T8 fluorescent, and now you have this opportunity to improve again with LED technology. What are your goals for this project?

We’d like to save somewhere in that vicinity again. We’re doing it in small bites because the philosophy at the corporate level is that we’ve got a few locations much worse off (lighting efficiency-wise) than we are here. So, if we can do that LED project somewhere else as a proving ground it will help – for example in our Montana facility which is still all HID.

We’re doing these small bits at our facility, the lockroom and exterior, but maybe another facility will be lucky enough to get their entire warehouse in LED. We’ll be able to do that eventually, it makes sense to within the next few years.

With the recent lockroom project, going to LED lighting, were there any surprising results? You mentioned earlier about the light reaching the bottom of the racks, and that it never had before.

The lighting is even and it’s not harsh at all. It’s subtle, like a daylight feel. We were hoping it wasn’t going to be a drastic change where it wouldn’t give us headaches or like the fluorescents that would sometimes have a harsh glare. Everyone likes the light, it’s nice and even and bright throughout the whole space – not overly bright. Everyone has said they like it, no one has had any complaints. Usually, when you get some kind of a new lighting system someone’s going to think it’s too bright, it gives them a headache, or something, but I haven’t heard any complaints at all.


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In your job, I’m sure you worked with many different contractors on various types of projects, and you’ve now worked with TRC at least twice on projects over the years – is there anything you can say about your experience with TRC, how it might have changed, or how it might be different from your experience with other contractors?

This latest project was all good, the install was very quick. They were attentive to what we were doing because they had to work around us, and did a great job keeping everything neat and organized. For example, the used fixtures were out of the way, not in our way, and your electrician did a favor for me. I asked him if he could take a couple of the old T8’s he was taking out and put a cord on there for us so we could use them as shop lights in our tool cage where we had some terrible lights. He said, “No problem,” and threw on two cords so we could also have new lights in that tool cage. I thought that was pretty cool, he didn’t even think about it at all, it was no problem.

Are there any other aspects of the installation or bid process that stood out to you?

This project was only an 8 light switch over, so it was a small project. The electrician came in at 8 a.m. and he was done by 3. All cleaned up and had our pallet of old fixtures ready to recycle, and they had someone from TRC come out and pick them up. At least I think they did, I have to check…

Well, if they haven’t yet, let us know and we’ll have someone come out for you!

Sure thing!

Have you been able to take advantage of utility rebates with your projects? Did TRC help with that?

Every project we’ve done has had rebates involved. The first one (2009 warehouse project) was pretty huge, about 30-40,000 dollar rebate and it really helped out. This last one, was a smaller project so a smaller amount, but the upcoming exterior project anticipates a fair amount of rebate. I probably wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a rebate. We would probably wait because rebates seem to cycle in and out every few months so it would be dumb not to use a rebate.

How about sensors? What has been your experience with sensors on your lighting systems?

They have sensors on them now, they’re all sensored. That is something that should always be sold with a project. It saves us TONS of money because most of these companies (warehouses) aren’t flying around in all those aisles all night long. The sensors save us a lot. We had metal halides burning the whole time the warehouse was open, and now with sensors on the fixtures those lights might stay off 3 or 4 hours at a time. Consider all the hours saved in a year and that’s a lot of money.

Last question, do you have any advice for other companies that are just beginning to research energy-efficient lighting projects, or just starting out with hiring contractors for energy-efficient lighting project?

I would say, let them show you the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Let them show you the proposal, show you what the project could save you if you switched over to new fixtures, the breakdown of how quickly it will payback. If the payback is within five to seven years it should be a no-brainer to anybody, whether you’re putting in carpeting or lighting. It would definitely be well worth an hour of your time, especially if you have metal halide lighting. What you’re going to save is going to be phenomenal. You’re going to be a hero within your company for doing it. =

Did this interview help you get some insight on what it's like to work with The Retrofit Companies? You can read more customer stories here, or go ahead and get our guide to help you ask the right questions when choosing a partner for your next lighting project!

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

read more case studies on TRC blog

Which TRC topics were most popular in 2016?

In 2016, The Retrofit Companies shared over 40 posts and original articles on this blog. Today, we share the topics that were most popular for you to consider whether you are trying to learn more about LED lighting myths or to better understand mercury waste. Keep reading for links to the most popular TRC blog posts of 2016.

We outline the top 4 Myths about LED Lighting in this popular blog post. Learn why all LED products are not created equal, and find out what factors in 2017 make this technology more approachable and affordable than ever.


What is the problem with mercury waste? Is it dangerous? How is it processed and recycled? Get these answers and more by reading "Understanding Mercury Waste." 


We share 9 Signs You Should Invest in LED Lighting including factors such as the availability of rebates, monthly utility bills that seem too high, and the need to remain nimble in changing business environments. If any of this sounds familiar to you, you may benefit from this helpful article!


This video shows exactly what happens in two instances when linear LED T8 lamps are incorrectly installed. Maybe you are considering these products for your efficiency measures in 2017, but we recommend watching this video and learning more about linear LED T8 replacements.


In 2016, TRC was given an Energy Efficiency Partner Award from Xcel Energy. Recipients are given the award "for their outstanding efforts to help customers save energy and reduce their environmental impact." You can see some TRC project case studies on the Xcel Energy website.


If you need lighting or recycling service consultations, our staff is ready to help. Contact TRC any time!

Consult a Lighting Pro


Consult our haz waste team

Interview with Trent Lowe: Allied Parking LED Retrofit

Allied Parking Garage Interview.png

Recently, we shared a new case study about an LED retrofit project recently completed at Allied Parking's Gateway ramp located downtown Minneapolis. This facility is unique because the first floor is a layover terminal for MTC buses. Keep reading to find out why Trent felt that working with TRC was different than working with other contractors.

Hi, Trent! Can you give us an introduction? Who are you, how are you affiliated with Allied Parking?

I’m Trent Lowe, Area Manager for Allied Parking. We have four parking ramps downtown Minneapolis. I’m in charge of all day-to-day operations, and running business for those four properties. The job includes lots of different duties from overseeing capital improvement, to customer service, to budgeting planning.

I have been with Allied for 2 years, with these properties for six years.


Today we’re talking about the LED parking lot lighting at Gateway ramp, is this the first lighting project you’ve done?

This is the first project we’ve done with TRC.

This parking ramp is a little different than a typical parking ramp. The first floor is actually a bus layover facility. It’s part of Metro Transit, the governmental organization in Minneapolis that oversees busing or public transportation. When the bus drivers have time in between routes, they will park in this area, and the floors above this ground level are a standard parking ramp. The project we did with The Retrofit Companies addressed all of the lighting in that Metro Transit bus layover facility.

They were old lights, probably original to the ramp- about thirty years old. A few years ago we retrofitted the lighting in the top floors of the ramp to fluorescent T8. These lamps in the busing area were still high pressure sodium lamps, so it was on the radar for many years. We wanted to upgrade, but never did. We finally met up with Justin from The Retrofit Companies late summer 2015, and started talking about doing the LED project because of the prices of LED’s coming down. And the process went from there.


How did you connect with TRC?

Justin had worked with Ann, an associate who works with other Allied property locations. Ann put us in touch.


That’s great, we love word of mouth! Can you tell me about working with other vendors versus TRC? Was it different in any way?

I would definitely say the relationship with TRC was a consultant-type relationship. Justin was very helpful. Straightforward, and I trusted that he wasn’t just trying to sell me whatever product was going to give him the best profitability. He took the time to make sure we were comfortable, and that we were getting the best product for our purpose. That was great

The other big thing that I really thank him for was he helped us get connected with the city of Minneapolis initiative which had just started. Because of that we were able to take part in the pilot program for some cost reimbursement for the project, on top of the Xcel Energy rebate. I was not aware of that program from the city, and we would not have gotten it, if it weren’t for Justin and The Retrofit Companies. It was really cool that they helped us with that opportunity to offset more of the costs.


Before the project your parking garage lighting was HID or high pressure sodium… did you have specific goals for this project? What were you expecting as the outcome?

Our only goals were to get something more efficient and to improve lighting in the area because the lighting was very poor and also very inefficient compared to today’s standards. We had seen, especially over the last couple of years, that pricing on LED’s has dropped to make that sort of project more viable. We were definitely excited about the LED technology and that was the direction we were going, but we didn’t have any specific product or goal in mind other than improving efficiency and improving quality of light.


Any surprising results?

We’re surprised that it’s looking better than we were anticipating it would. Otherwise, no surprises really. We’re very impressed with how much it brightened up the facility. It’s a night and day difference, as you can probably see from the photos. It was even better than we expected, but other than that it was exactly what we were expecting.

Before and After LED Parking Garage.png


How was the installation experience? How were the TRC crews that put the new system in place for you?

They were great, I mean, they did the project much quicker than everyone was telling me. They said it would take over a week, and TRC crews were actually out of there in four full work days. The whole time they were working the bus area was still open; there were still buses going in and out of there. TRC had no issues working around them or staying out of their way. No one was calling to say, “Hey these guys are in the way,” or “This is a problem,” or anything like that. It went very smoothly. The install was effortless, better than expected as far as time line and issues.


Did other vendors approach you with this same project in mind? Tell me about your experience with other vendors on similar projects.

In 2010 or 2011 we retrofitted our facilities to T8 fluorescent, and we had good experiences with other contractors. We did have several people approach us - it seems like lots of lighting companies are always coming in wanting to do projects – so, we did have several bidders with different options for this bus garage project that The Retrofit Companies just completed.


What aspects of the TRC project or bid process made it stand out?

Definitely the personal attention and the feeling from Justin that he was more of a consultant role and was really trying to help us rather than just sell us the products. It was very helpful and established some trust. Also, that he was able to come up with the program from City of Minneapolis. That was huge. A lot of these other firms can get us similar products and the pricing is similar, but TRC did the homework and got us the extra cost sharing program funds that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about. That was very helpful, as well.


Last question: Do you have advice for other companies that are considering a lighting project?

Talk to TRC. (ha-ha)


We’ll take that! But what about advice for people who are just starting their research on energy-efficient lighting projects and contractors or partners to do the work?

The people you’re working with and the working relationship that you have is very important. That can make the project. Obviously, there can be hurdles that are unforeseen and things can go wrong, but the quality of the people that are addressing those issues with you, your partners or contractors in that project, are what’s going to make a project ultimately successful or not - regardless of the variables you can plan for. Make sure you’re working with quality people that you can count on.


Really good advice! Thanks for your time, Trent. Do you have anything to add?

Just to say that we had a very positive experience on the whole project. It went great and it was a pleasure for us.


Thanks again!


Did this interview help you get some insight on what it's like to work with The Retrofit Companies? You can read more customer stories here, or go ahead and get our guide to help you ask the right questions when choosing a partner for your next lighting project!

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

2017 Xcel Energy Rebate Updates

Getting help with lighting rebates.png

Xcel Energy recently shared the 2016/2017 Minnesota Business Rebate structure updates in their newsletter to TRC. Some previously unavailable utility rebate options are now available for LED down light retrofits and for LED screw-in as HID replacements. LED street lighting and area lighting are two Xcel Energy rebate options that are greatly improved for 2017. Keep reading to get the details and find assistance.

You can see this list of rebates in this PDF document, and you can visit Xcel Energy's Business Lighting Efficiency page for information on the program itself. And if this sounds like something you're interested in, and too busy to tackle on your own, we can help! 

TRC is a Business Lighting Efficiency Program Winner and Trade Partner. To learn about how The Retrofit Companies can assist with your lighting project and project rebates, schedule a consult call today!

Talk to a Consultant About Rebates

Parking Garage LED Lighting Retrofit Case Study

LED Retrofit Parking Garage.png 

This parking garage lighting project's dramatic improvement in lighting came along with $23,634 in utility rebate incentives, plus a Green Business Cost Sharing program from the city of Minneapolis when this client upgraded the aging, inefficient high pressure sodium lighting. They now have better light quality in their facility, increased safety for their patrons, and they are saving money and resources at the same time! Keep reading to see more specifics about how Allied Parking upgraded to LED lighting in the MTC facility at their Gateway ramp downtown Minneapolis.


Before Retrofit Parking Garage HID to LED.png

Facility Statistics: The Benefits of a Lighting Upgrade

Common lighting issues in parking garages include dark, shadowy areas and poor light quality. By replacing the existing High Pressure Sodium lighting with energy efficient LED that consume only 45 watts each, this facility is taking advantage of major energy savings. At the end of this project the client was saving 143 watts per fixture, reducing energy usage by 76%!

Cost Savings: Does is really add up?

Before completing this LED lighting retrofit project, TRC performed a full facility audit. This means all of the existing fixtures were counted, along with their rate of energy consumption and hours of operation, and a cost of operating was established. The new, more energy-efficient system was also proposed in the same way. The difference in energy usage totaled $14,430 in annual lighting cost savings. 

Kw and kWh were both reduced by 76% annually with this LED retrofit. The client qualified for $23K in energy-efficiency rebates from their local utility company, and an additional cost sharing program amount was awarded to them by the city of Minneapolis' Green Business Cost Sharing Program

Carbon Savings: What does it mean? 

Based on kWh reduction from our facility lighting audit and using a Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, we can determine carbon savings of 110.6 tons of CO2 for this energy efficiency project. This is equivalent to keeping 21.7 cars off the road for a year, 12,395  gallons of gasoline saved, or 38.5 tons of waste recycled instead of land filled!


After Retrofit Parking Garage HID to LED.png

Find out how you can start saving energy & money today.

get a smart start to your lighting project

Future of Lighting Controls (links)

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Controls have been a part of successful lighting projects for a long time; however, technology exists now to make using it easier and more affordable. We've shared several ways that use of controls can increase energy efficiency and we've previously discussed the future of lighting controls from our perspective. Here we have collected a set of links discussing an array of topics from the need for standards in education for lighting design professionals, to the pros and cons of wireless controls. 


"The lighting industry is undergoing massive change due to growing demand for intelligent LED lighting systems and controls. LED lighting, which promises high operating cost savings, is ideally paired with both wired and wireless intelligent lighting controls, which promise additional savings and flexibility. Accelerating demand for these technologies is transforming workspaces while reducing costs. It is also creating an education gap among service providers unfamiliar with aspects of the technology.

The electrical industry has responded with a series of initiatives, but to date, there has been no national certification signifying a high level of general expertise in lighting controls technology, application, design and commissioning. To address this need, NALMCO developed the Certified Lighting Controls Professional (CLCP) designation." [READ MORE]


"With wireless lighting control, you don’t need to rely on employees to turn lights on and off. Instead, you can take advantage of scheduling, timers, occupancy sensors and photosensors to deliver the optimal illumination level in all situations while minimizing wasted energy." [READ MORE]


"Energy usage can be cut by 40% by using the latest, more advanced HVAC and lighting controls.  Thus, operating costs for older buildings can be lowered by retrofitting equipment and controls. However, the cost of rewiring is often prohibitive. That’s where wireless sensor networks (WSNs) can help." [READ MORE]


"[D]istricts everywhere are being asked to do more with less, progressive administrators and technicians are coming together to find new ways to streamline work and automate processes. Automated lighting control systems... give facilities managers the flexibility to plan complex lighting schedules well in advance while reducing manual work and energy use."  [READ MORE]


"Lighting is fundamental to any retail store, whether that is for setting a scene and influencing how a brand is perceived, or even encouraging shoppers to make a particular purchase. However, if not managed correctly, it can be extremely expensive. In fact, lighting accounts for around 53% off all electricity consumption in a typical retail outlet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration." [READ MORE]


 "The opportunities for the lighting industry are immense. Luminaires, which essentially see every square inch of habitable space, are an obvious media in which to host the sensor and video technology that can turn the world into a virtual databank" [READ MORE]

If you are beginning your research, be sure you are getting the best information you can in order to make the best decision. Start by asking the right questions & get our guide:

11 Questions you should ask a lighting contractor

Corporations Step Up to Support Community Ewaste Recycling Collections

Community Recycling Collection Event in Warroad.png


In northern Minnesota, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, is the town of Warroad. This unassuming small town is home to Marvin Windows and Doors, the world’s largest manufacturer of made-to-order wood window and door products. While the town has a population just under two thousand people, the business employs more than 5,200 people at their ten nationwide locations. The company has been recognized widely for its ethical and responsible practices and was named The Most Ethical Large Company in America in 2014. At the core of their values you find environmental stewardship activities ranging from conservation, sustainability programs, and recycling efforts.

Given its rural location and the fact that it is a community anchor, there is something distinctive about the location of the headquarters and their sense of community in the workplace. As I learned about the company, this fact shone through and continued to when I interviewed Wayne Pearson. Wayne is a Waste Management Supervisor, and we met to talk about a program that was founded at Marvin Windows and Doors to help alleviate a recycling issue he noticed as a result of the town’s somewhat remote location and lack of recycling outlets. The company has a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and Pearson was in a unique position to address this lack-of-recycling problem in a way that perhaps others may not have been able to do. He understood the importance of recycling, and naturally he felt the same importance applied to individuals, as well. He explains, “Up here, we’re so far away from any recycling markets, and the employees needed these services. We did not have the avenues to recycle electronics and glass like more populated areas.” He suggested the company hold a recycling event specifically for employees, sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The company is proactive. It’s very evident with programs like this. They supported the idea and the financial aspects of it, too. They are the ones that get this. Their support to the employees is tremendous.”

The first ewaste recycling collection event was held in 2012 with great success. Just over 23,000 pounds of electronics were recycled; all of these items brought to the collection by employees at the headquarters location! In 2013 the event peaked at 25,477 pounds of electronics, plus another 10,552 pounds of appliances. By 2014, Pearson was seeing the amount of waste drop: roughly 18,000 pounds of electronics and 4,000 pounds of appliances were recycled at that event. In 2015, another drop to 15,573 pounds of electronics, but with the most recent event in October 2016, something surprising happened – the collection event generated just over 19,000 pounds of electronics. “I’m not sure what to say on the 2016 results, I’m a little bit disappointed. I’d rather have it continue to decline! Word is getting out there more, and I know there are a certain amount of new people taking advantage of the program,” Pearson said.

Wayne and I talked a bit about the growth and future of the program, and the support offered by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The first two years, when we started the electronics recycling program, there was no charge to anyone to do this because the commodity markets for recycling were great. We had an appliance recycling event, too. The markets were so good that there was no cost to the company. Now the last three years, the markets have declined and we have lost some of our recycling avenues,” he says, referring to another program in the county that recycled glass, but ended up leaving the market and leaving residents with no glass recycling option. Parenthetically, Marvin Windows and Doors now offers a glass recycling program to its employees since the county doesn’t offer that type of recycling program anymore.

“The local transfer station will take [electronic] items, but they charge $5 a piece for them. We’re offering these services to the employees now. During the collection event we say, ‘Yes! Bring your items to recycle, there’s no charge!’ We also have internal support for these activities and it’s a pretty amazing thing for the company to do. Marvin Windows and Doors is progressive, and I want to support that by doing the best thing I can do for the company.”

The two-day event is held once a year, and employees are invited to bring their electronic waste in to be collected by Pearson and his team. I asked him about the effort it takes to organize an event like this, and Wayne said, “It’s outside of the facilities’ normal activities, so we take two days for the collection. There is a lot of work and preparation for it, and then during the collection we’re actually kept pretty busy. We don’t staff it full time, but we try to make it so that someone is there if people bring heavier items.” At the end of the event, waste is shipped to The Retrofit Companies’ location in Little Canada, MN to be sorted and delivered for recycling.

Over the span of just ten days, over the course of 5 years, in a town with less than 1,800 residents, one company was able to collect more than 115,000 pounds of waste electronics and appliances as a service to its employees. This waste was diverted from improper disposal or landfilling, and was responsibly recycled. The community collection model has been a staggering success for the worker community at Marvin Windows and Doors.

So, what do employees who take advantage of the recycling collection think of it and would Pearson recommend this for other organizations? In short, resounding positivity. He says, “Yes, it’s a morale booster and a service. It’s well worth the effort to get this type of program going. I’ve been working with Jake [TRC Environmental Sales Director] for two years on this, and it is awesome working together. Planning this out, the support of our company, the many individuals coming together to communicate these efforts. It’s a huge opportunity for Marvin Windows and Doors employees to clean out basements, garages, and storage areas for no charge. The employees are grateful and appreciative that this is a possibility. This is something a company can do that is beneficial to employees. It is a big effort, but well worth it.” •


Looking for additional information to plan community recycling collection programs? Read this:

How to plan your community recycling day

Why Invest in a Lighting Study? (Video Interview)

 why invest in a lighting study video.png

Sweet Harvest facility manager, Brian Pleschcourt talks about his experience with an aging and inefficient lighting system, and tells us how the Lighting Redesign Study process worked for his facility.  Read the interview now.

Why did Sweet Harvest decide to replace the lighting in your facility? What were the issues you faced and what were some of your company's goals for the lighting project?

"We knew it was time to replace the lighting in the facility because we had a lot of older existing fixtures with lamp failures and also with ballast issues. We had a general yellowish tint to the building. We wanted to improve the lighting and the quality of lighting for our employees' productivity and safety. Also, to support our green initiatives toward saving energy."

What solutions were evident in the study that you may not have been able to realize without that first planning step of an Investment Grade Audit?

"We saw with the motion sensors and controls on the lighting that we could save more energy. Sweet Harvest foods has a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and we take that very seriously. We were able to take out the length of the project - as far as payback - a little longer knowing we were making good decisions, environmentally sound decisions. [These were] decisions that would save us money in the long run."

In your opinion, what were the benefits of the lighting study process?

"One of the benefits to the lighting study was that we were able to look at new technologies in the existing building. That [part of the study] allowed us to reduce the amount of fixtures in the layout, lighting exactly to what our needs were going to be. There's no guess work. Everything is calculated and engineered."


Watch the video! 


If you're thinking it's time to invest in a lighting study, get our free e-book today & learn more:

get a smart start to your lighting project

Minnesota Hazardous Waste manifest Updates

Although TRC sent notices along with all the manifests that we generated earlier this year, it may be a good reminder to Minnesota generators that the MPCA is no longer requiring you to mail in the  “Designated Facility to generator’ (3 signature copy) manifest copies. Generators in Scott and Anoka counties still need to send in their copies to their respective Counties.


“For administrative and budgetary reasons, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the Metropolitan Counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington (Metro Counties) have changed the requirements for submittal of hazardous waste manifest copies.

Effective April 30, 2016, all hazardous waste generators of any size in Anoka and Scott counties must submit manifest copies directly to their county.

Hazardous waste generators of all sizes anywhere else in Minnesota except Anoka or Scott County should no longer submit any manifest copies to either the MPCA or their county unless explicitly requested.

You may find a detailed discussion of this change in newly revised MPCA Factsheet #w-hw1-07, ‘Manifest Shipments of Hazardous Waste’ at: "


 Questions about compliance or waste solutions? Contact our team today!

Consult our haz waste team

Lighting Retrofit - Vs - Lighting Redesign



As our company approaches its 25th business anniversary, we know this for sure: no two lighting projects are the same. So, when you're presented with several options for a lighting project, how can you know which is the best option for you - lighting retrofit or lighting redesign? In this post, we're going to step through three common approaches to lighting projects and discuss each in detail. First, let's talk a little bit about why all projects are so different.


You know that your business needs may be similar to another company of your same size in the same industry, but you also know that you've got differing needs. Here are some factors you should consider and questions you should be able to answer as you consider whether or not to upgrade your lighting: 

  • Do you know if you over or under lit?
  • Do specific areas of your process have different lighting needs?  For example, in manufacturing an inspection line and a warehouse/staging area would require different types or amounts of lighting. In an office setting you may have presentation spaces and work spaces where different tasks take place.
  • Are areas of your space unoccupied for long periods of time?  If you are not using any lighting controls currently, this would be a great place to consider implementing a controls system.
  • What does the future of your business look like? Do you have expansion plans or anticipate a change to your layout? 
  • Do you need a lighting system that is capable of growing with you?  By designing with a smart fixture that can do more than what we’ll tell it to do, you can always adjust the light level as your needs change. (This applies to most LED options.)
  • Because each business is different these are just some of the variables that are taken into consideration when planning or designing a lighting system.


Understanding your business needs is the first step in project planning. Your needs may be simple and direct and your business may not be changing, or you may be a company in the midst of growth and you envision many changes in the future to your business process. Three general options exist; we're calling them "Good," "Better," "Best."



This option has a low up-front cost and results in minimal waste. Replacing lamps is generally a quick and simple solution, energy-efficient lamps are relatively easy to find. There is typically a good simple payback with reduction of wattage per lamp. With this simple scope of work, the rebate is also straightforward. In most cases rebates are per lamp, but this depends on the type.

This option will have a shorter over all system life than most fixture replacements; it will result in higher future maintenance costs. Replacing lamps will not necessarily address inconsistent light levels, improve performance, or reduce shadows that currently exist in your lighting. This option is not recommended for rugged or hazardous environments.


Nearly half of the projects evaluated will have a one-for-one fixture replacement solution. This solution is pretty likely to result in a successful project, and has been a pretty standard approach in the lighting industry for years. Again, the scope of work is pretty simple, and so is the rebate structure. Rebates are typically per fixture, and removing some fixtures can result in a higher rebate. Replacing fixtures in their existing locations also means a lower up-front cost to this project type because you do not have a cost associated to wiring fixtures to new locations.

With this sort of project, we have seen results where light levels went from 30 to 100 foot-candles in a gymnasium. Without controls, or ability to adjust light levels, a lot of energy is wasted to over-light this space when no events are happening in it. In addition to being over lit, keeping these unneeded fixtures will result in higher costs for energy and higher maintenance costs.

This solution may work just fine for half of projects as we noted, however; the best projects are given more consideration. Redesign planning is where a lighting design professional will outshine a standard electrical contractor.


Lighting redesign is a collaborative process between a business owner or operator and a lighting professional. The process takes into consideration your business, how it functions, how spaces are used, and any financial and environmental goals that your business has in sight. The solution begins with a study, or deep dive into all these factors, and when research is completed a custom lighting system is designed. Certified lighting professionals work with you to ensure that the scope of the project will meet your needs, and all aspects of it will be planned out in a series of reports before a single piece of equipment is ordered. This is the most sophisticated route for a lighting project, an investment in your investment.

Some utilities offer reimbursement programs to reduce the cost of the investment in a lighting study, which is in addition to the rebate received for energy savings. While a project study may increase the payback time period, the overall results are a lowered long term cost of ownership factoring in maintenance savings and energy reductions. 

Why should you consider a redesign if a one-for-one fixture replacement would be just fine? Once again, this comes down to the level of sophistication that is inherent in LED lighting. There are as many solutions as there are businesses, and sorting through all of those is nearly impossible unless you plan with the help of a lighting partner. You can have a good project, or with a little more insight you can have a great one. Partnership with a great lighting professional will allow you to get the most out of your lighting project investment by starting off with the best plan possible.


Curious about the redesign process? Learn about Investment Grade Audits now - get our free ebook!

Why invest in a lighting study?

The Surprising Impact of Lighting Redesign


Before their lighting redesign and retrofit, this arena building was underlit and had major shadows.

Rick A Shay Ranch is a horse lover’s sanctuary nestled at the end of a wooded drive in Chisago City, Minnesota. Owner operator Pam Foshay started her ranch nearly 20 years ago, and describes her history with horses as spanning several decades including a notable list of credentials. On the ranch Pam offers lessons, boarding, and training in a range of styles from basic handling and trail riding to dressage and games. The training is physical and mental for all involved. From her description, most of her clients are children and young adults with whom she loves to share her vast experience and cites that best parts of her job are the long relationships she is able to have with riders. She says some of them started with her when they were under ten years old. She has watched them grow, volunteer, and develop their dedication to the hard work of caring for the animals into impressive points of interest when applying for colleges and jobs. Many of them are now in their 20’s and still spend time at Rick A Shay Ranch.

Pam’s primary arena was constructed in the late 1990’s, and at the time, the lights installed were previously used. Some of the primary issues with the old lighting, aside from being inefficient and expensive to operate, included cones of light and many shadows within the arena area. She knew it was time for an upgrade, so she began working with The Retrofit Companies to have a new lighting system designed and installed.

Consultants from The Retrofit Companies designed a system where interior and exterior metal halide and incandescent fixtures were replaced with new LED fixtures. Inside, the 17 existing metal halide fixtures that used over 450 watts each were replaced with 12 new LED fixtures that consume only 102 watts per fixture. With the system redesign five fixtures were removed, and lighting performance is improved. Photometric studies prior to installation allow us to see projected outcomes and determine if a fixture will perform in the manner expected. On the exterior of the building, new LED fixtures with dusk-to-dawn sensors now light the side of the building and the doorways automatically as needed, making early chores easier for her and late departures safer for her clients.


After the project was completed, inside was almost as bright at the outside!

We asked Pam about the other improvements she and her riders have experienced since the project was completed, and were surprised by some of her answers. She told us that people comment on the improved look and that the better lighting is important to the young riders as they learn new skills. Regarding the performance of the system she says, “It’s two times brighter, and no glare. We turn them on, and zing, they’re on!” She noted that it’s nice and bright, and during the winter it’s always a sunny day inside. “It’s inviting, let’s put it that way.” We know that improved lighting does have an impact on people, and has been proven to increase productivity so we asked about the horses. One of the most interesting aspects of the project we think, was Pam’s answer to this inquiry. She says the horses can see better in the new light. They are able to better use all of the arena space since shadows are reduced and they’re more relaxed; in turn this relaxes the riders for a more enjoyable learning experience.


Pam’s new lighting system is anticipated to reduce her annual lighting costs by an astonishing 84%. The LED retrofit qualified for a utility rebate of $4,100, and offers a simple payback of one year and nine months. These remarkable results aren’t exclusive to large projects, or giant warehouse spaces, even smaller businesses can see dramatic improvements with lighting redesign and upgrade projects.

Curious about lighting redesign and project planning? Get our ebook!

Why invest in a lighting study?


Improper E-Waste Recycling? (Link)


Do you know the ultimate destination for your old electronics when you send them to be recycled? Whether you are paying for a recycling service or donating your used electronics,  taking responsibility for your end of life electronic waste is important and necessary for individuals and businesses alike. Basel Action Network (BAN) recently tracked some electronic waste devices destined for recycling, but discovered that nearly 1 in 3 of these items were being potentially illegally exported. 


Basel Action Network (BAN), released a new report following a two year study that involved placing electronic GPS tracking devices into old hazardous electronic equipment such as printers and computer monitors, and then watching where they traveled across the globe.


Instead of being recycled, 32.5 percent of these devices were exported overseas on container ships. Most of them went to Asia and were traded in likely violation of the laws of the importing countries. Of the 149 trackers delivered to recyclers, 39 percent were exported. [SOURCE]

You can learn more about Basal Action Network's "e-Trash Transparency Program" on their site. Improper e-waste recycling can have resounding effects on the environment and on people. If you're curious about what can happen when e-waste is illegally exported, take a look at this photo essay. It illustrates the impact of illegal or irresponsible exporting of electronics on the environment and on the young lives of people who process the waste in terrible conditions.

If you are looking for more information about how to responsibly recycle e-waste you can read our article "Four Things You Must Know to Responsibly Recycle Your Electronics." To learn more about computer recycling contact our environmental team for information about our responsible recycling services.

Request Recycling Pick Up




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Parking Garage LED Lighting Retrofit Case Study

Lighting Retrofit - Vs - Lighting Redesign

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Understanding LED Linear T8 tubes

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