The Retrofit Companies 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:

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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 www.xcelenergy.com.

 

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.

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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?

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APRIL 22nd

City of Barnesville, MN (Clay County)

FREE Residential Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

205 Front Street North

Barnesville, MN 56514

8AM-NOON

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

ALL OF THIS ELECTRONIC WASTE ACCEPTED FROM CLAY COUNTY RESIDENTS FOR FREE!

City of Vadnais Heights, MN

Electronic and Appliance Waste Recycling Collection Event

651 East County Road F

Vadnais Heights, MN 55127

8AM-2PM

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.

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF VADNAIS HEIGHTS FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

City of Maplewood, MN

Electronic and Appliance Waste Recycling Collection Event

Aldrich Arena

1850 White Bear Avenue North

Maplewood, MN 55109

8AM-1PM

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.

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF MAPLEWOOD FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

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

7AM-4PM MONDAY, APRIL, 24th-FRIDAY, MAY 8th AND SATURDAY, APRIL 29TH 8AM-NOON

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

APRIL 29TH

City of Moorhead, MN (Clay County)

FREE Residential Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

1300 15TH Avenue North

Moorhead, MN 55127

8AM-NOON

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

ALL OF THIS ELECTRONIC WASTE ACCEPTED FROM CLAY COUNTY RESIDENTS FOR FREE!

City of Roseville, MN

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

2555 Dale Street

Roseville, MN 55113

8AM-3PM

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

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF ROSEVILLE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

MAY 4th

City of Ada, MN (Al’s Disposal)

Universal Waste Recycling Collection Event

808 East Main Street

Ada, MN 56510

10AM-2PM

Waste Collected-Batteries, fluorescent lamps, and ballasts

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF ADA OR AL’S DISPOSAL FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

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

9AM-1PM

Waste Collected- Fluorescent lamps and ballasts.

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF FAIRMONT FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

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

7AM-1PM

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.

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF WHITE BEAR LAKE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

City of East Grand Forks, MN

E-waste and Universal Waste Recycling Collection Event

1001 2nd Street NE

East grand Forks, MN 56721

9AM-3PM

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.

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF EAST GRAND FORKS FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

Keep Columbus Beautiful-Columbus, NE

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

First United Methodist Church

2710 14th Street

Columbus, NE 68608

9AM-1PM

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

PLEASE CONTACT “KEEP COLUMBUS BEAUTIFUL” FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

MAY 13th

City of Austin

Electronic Waste and Appliance Recycling Collection Event

Mower County Fairgrounds

700 12TH Street SW

Austin, MN 55912

9AM-2PM

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

8AM-NOON

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

ALL OF THIS ELECTRONIC WASTE ACCEPTED FROM CLAY COUNTY RESIDENTS FOR FREE!

MAY 20th

City of Albert Lea (Freeborn County)

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

Freeborn County Fairgrounds

1031 Bridge Avenue

Albert Lea, MN 56007

10AM-2PM

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

7AM-NOON

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

PLEASE CONTACT THE CITY OF SHOREVIEW FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

Owatonna, MN-Steele County

Universal and Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

The Retrofit Companies

1010 Hoffman Drive

Owatonna, MN 55060

9AM-NOON

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

MAY 27TH

City of Hawley, MN (Clay County)

Business Waste Collection Event

3301 190th Street

Hawley, MN 56549

8AM-10AM

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.

PLEASE CONTACT CLAY COUNTY FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

City of Moorhead, MN (Clay County)

Business Waste Collection Event-

1300 15TH Avenue North

Moorhead, MN 55127

NOON-4PM

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.

PLEASE CONTACT CLAY COUNTY FOR MORE INFORMATION AND PRICING.

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JUNE 3rd

City of Grand Marais (Cook County)

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

630 5th Avenue West

Grand Marais, MN 55604

9AM-1PM

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

10AM-2PM

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

ALL OF THIS ELECTRONIC WASTE ACCEPTED FROM AITKIN COUNTY RESIDENTS FOR FREE!

AUGUST 26th

City of Grand Marais (Cook County)

Residential Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

630 5th Avenue West

Grand Marais, MN 55604

9AM-1PM

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

SEPTEMBER 22nd

City of Albert Lea (Freeborn County)

Electronic Waste Recycling Collection Event

Freeborn County Fairgrounds

1031 Bridge Avenue

Albert Lea, MN 56007

10AM-2PM

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

...new 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

 

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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.

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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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

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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

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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 NEED FOR INDUSTRY EDUCATION & EXPERTISE STANDARDS

"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]

PROS & CONS OF WIRELESS LIGHTING CONTROL

"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]

SAFETY & FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF ADVANCED CONTROLS

"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]

USING CONTROLS IN SCHOOLS

"[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]

USING CONTROLS IN RETAIL

"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]

COMPREHENSIVE BUILDING CONTROLS & INTERNET OF THINGS

 "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

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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)

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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:

 

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/w-hw1-07.pdf "

 

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

Consult our haz waste team

Lighting Retrofit - Vs - Lighting Redesign

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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.

YOUR BUSINESS IS YOURS. YOU DO WHAT YOU WANT.

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.

WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?

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."

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OPTION 1: GOOD 
REPLACE THE LAMPS

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.

OPTION 2: BETTER
REPLACE FIXTURES 1-FOR-1

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.

OPTION 3: BEST 
LIGHTING REDESIGN

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

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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

 

 

 

Linear LED & Other T8 LED Resources

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There's a giant world of information about LED linear tube options, energy efficient lighting, and how to get the most from your retrofit project, but do you really have the time to seek it all out? If you're like most any professional we've met, the answer is no. You need concise, accurate information in order to make informed business decisions. To save you a few clicks, today we're sharing a rundown of all our information about T8 LED tubes to date - from "What is a Linear LED T8?" to some recall products we've noted, and a video of how simple installation mis-steps result in product failures. Keep reading for a distilled list of high points!

 

1) Are you considering a lighting upgrade by replacing your T8 fluorescent lamps with T8 LED linear tubes for energy efficiency? This is a wonderful leap in the lighting world, affording lighting designers, facility managers, and other contractors the ability to essentially retrofit existing fluorescent fixtures with LED linear tube options. It can be seen to have benefits and cost savings over a major redesign and new lighting system overhaul; however, there are many considerations to be aware of as you begin planning your lighting project if you only intend to replace fluorescent tubes with LED tubes.Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as just changing a light bulb. Keep reading to learn some of the pitfalls and concerns to keep in mind as you learn about LED T8 lamps. [READ MORE]

 

2) There are 3 general types of T8 LED tubes used in LED lighting retrofit projects. In this post we evaluate each of these LED linear tube options, sharing best uses, and some pros and cons.

 

3) Deeply consider how you would like to approach your lighting upgrade investment, are you simply looking for greater energy efficiency, or do you want to improve lighting, reduce maintenance expenses, and step in to the future with a well-designed system?

 

4) One common retrofit includes integrated LED lamps to eliminate the need for a ballast. This might be the right solution for your facility, but this video illustrates the future care and education required of each individual tasked with maintaining a lighting system. There is a large potential for injury for an uninformed individual maintaining these systems. LED T8 hazards exist, and a simple oversight can cause serious damage. Watch here to see how two common mistakes are made in maintaining integrated LED T8 fixtures.

 

5) Deciding to invest in energy-efficiency is a decision that every company or business must come by on their own. Oftentimes, an investment in energy-efficiency will yield more than a return on investment. Let’s look at 9 signs that could be telling you it’s time to consider investing in LED Lighting.

 

6) T8 LED Lamp recalls from Cree and from Sylvania.

 

Looking for additional insight? Our professional lighting consultants are available! Schedule now:

Consult a Lighting Pro

HOW DOES HAZARDOUS WASTE CLEAN UP WORK?

Do you have a room, closet, or cabinet used for chemical storage? Maybe your business has a few old cans of paint, or an entire warehouse aisle of miscellaneous products that sit half-unused year after year, and you're not really sure how to start getting it all cleaned up safely and responsibly?

Keep reading to learn about the TRC process for managing hazardous waste cleanups for our clients, with attention to details, and in compliance with DOT and EPA regulations.

We start in one of two manners, either the client provides a waste inventory, or TRC comes on site to organize waste and create the inventory. Here's how each option works:

CLIENT CREATED INVENTORY

Client sorts and inventories their waste, and then provides TRC with that inventory along with SDS sheets for all wastes. The Environmental team likes to have pictures, so they know how much and what types of packaging to prepare for, and to get a clear idea of what is on site. TRC will often ask for that from the customer. TRC is then able to create a recycling and disposal estimate based on that inventory. The actual invoice will be based on the actual waste found on-site, plus time and packaging material needed to prepare the waste according to DOT and EPA compliance. This is certainly not a solution for everyone, and we do provide a simple hazardous waste inventory guide to help clients, but many people choose to have TRC take care of their chemical waste clean up from the start.

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TRC CREATED INVENTORY

If your hazardous waste clean up project is large or complicated, or if your company doesn't have in-house environmental safety expertise, having TRC work on your chemical waste clean up from the start is a helpful solution. This is a tremendous benefit when internal resources or knowledge are not available to you. Clients simply contact TRC and schedule a time for the TRC Environmental Services team to come on-site. Under a T&M agreement, our professional team will:

  • sort your waste
  • organize wate by type
  • complete an inventory of your waste
  • package the waste in approved transport containers
  • prepare the required paperwork for shipment

Finally, TRC loads the waste onto our truck and hauls it off site to be processed and/or recycled. Our fees for this service include mileage charged to get the team on-site, an hourly labor rate for staff, and cost for packaging used needed, along with the disposal fees. One job, one invoice. We asked one of our recent clients about his experience using this exact service. He recommends, "Hire someone like TRC to handle it from start to finish. It was a big process, and your guys made it so much easier. It takes a lot of pressure off of you by having a qualified company handle it in a proper way."

 

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At this point you have chosen to either create a waste inventory on your own or hire TRC to complete one, and your project will be handed from the account representative over to our environmental services team, the people trained to safely handle and mange hazardous wastes. 

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Our team arrives on site at the scheduled time and begin to categorize all of the waste by DOT hazard classes and chemical compatibility. Each category is then inventoried before being packaged into UN-rated drums. The void space in the drums is filled with a loose packing media to prevent items from shifting during transit and to soak up any liquids that may spill. Each drum is assigned EPA waste codes and a shipping description from the DOT Hazardous Materials Table. All items are shipped either on a hazardous materials bill of lading or a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest. The on-site team prepares all of the shipping documents, labels, markings, and profiles required to legally transport your waste for disposal and/or recycling. The profile forms describe the waste to the disposal facility to ensure that an appropriate treatment plan is utilized. Clients receive copies of all shipping documents for their records.

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Once the waste is shipped from the client's site is it brought back to TRC's licenses, 10-day transfer facility in Little Canada, MN. From there it is placed onto a semi-trailer with waste from other generators (clients) and shipped to the disposal facility for final processing. Upon receipt of the waste, the disposal facility signs the shipping documents and sends a copy of the now completed shipping document back to the original generator (that's you!) to help them maintain compliance.

You can read more about hazardous waste recycling and Envrionmental Services with TRC, or consult our team now with your questions!

 

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

CRT TV and Monitor Recycling

 

 

crt-recycling-process.jpgUPDATED FEBRUARY 2017

CRTs and CRT Glass were once easily recycled into new CRTs; however, the demand for new CRTs has collapsed in favor of new flat panel technologies.

Because of rising costs, negative economic incentives, and shifts in CRT glass markets, some CRT processors and recyclers are choosing to store the glass indefinitely, rather than send it for recycling (or disposal), which increases the risk of mismanagement and/or abandonment of the CRTs.

– US EPA, September 2014 

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH WASTE CRT's?

In the electronics recycling industry, waste processing changes over time as methods improve or markets shift. CRT recycling used to be what is known as a 'closed loop process' where old leaded glass tubes were recycled into new ones; however, new technology does not use leaded glass tubes. (Think: flat panel tv's and computer monitors.) There is less need for the leaded glass which used to be a commodity, so they are getting problematic for some recyclers.

We now know that some computer recycling companies stockpiled and left behind over 100 million pounds of CRT tubes and glass when they went out of business, and that "Materials Processing Corp. (MPC) in Minnesota went out of business after being fined $125,000 by the state for improperly storing crushed cathode ray tubes." One company in Kentucky admitted to illegally dumping electronic waste into a hole in their backyard.

As a waste generator, you are responsible for seeing to the safe and legal disposal or recycling of your end-of-life electronics. Finding a reputable recycling partner is the best way to reduce your liability. A comprehensive e-waste recycling program protects your company from unnecessary complications and costs while improving your business and the environment.

what happEns to the crt's we COLLECT?

Your compliance, security, and safety is our priority. TRC’s partner recycles all equipment to its individual commodity components and separates all hazardous materials on-site to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. They maintain a state-of-the art, automated de-manufacturing and recycling system that provides an effective, economical solution for recycling obsolete monitors and televisions into various new glass uses and products. Using downstream vendors that provide a recycling or reuse process is the preferred method of recycling by state and federal agencies. Waste is sorted by type and chemistry to produce glass that is ready for the downstream companies, This process for CRT glass processing meets and exceeds all federal regulations and guidelines regarding the CRT Rule. All protocols meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations, while safely processing the glass with no exposure to the environment.

TRC's approved partners offer data security, certified recycling and end facilities, a vetted recycling process, and documentation you need for reporting, including a certificate of recycling. Visit our webpage about items accepted and be assured you safely and responsibly recycle waste like used electronics from your business.

Ready to recycle? Schedule a pick up at your business now!

Request Recycling Pick Up

Understanding LED Linear T8 tubes

In our previous two blog posts, we discussed LED linear tube options for your LED lighting retrofit. First we gave an introduction and discussed some safety concerns, and then outlined the three types of LED tubes. Keep reading to learn a final set of variables to consider when selecting LED tubes, and next steps to get your project going on the right foot!

Know what you are trying to accomplish when selecting LED tubes

Even when you have the correct combination of linear LED tubes and existing ballast or wiring configuration, simply grabbing an LED tube and installing it may change lighting levels drastically, undoing the original success of a well-designed lighting solution. Safety and compatibility requirements aside, there are two additional primary factors to consider when selecting LED T8 linear lamps to help maintain good lighting design that may already exist in your space. The first is lumen output and the second is the beam angle of the lamp.

When LED tube wattage is too high, the result is an over lit space. This may mean you have more light than you need, and that’s not the end of the world; however, that result means energy is being wasted. You are dismissing potential energy and utility-cost savings. You don’t have the optimum lighting design for your application.
Beam angle is critical. A traditional fluorescent lamp casts light 360 degrees around the linear tube, but T8 LED is available in a range of beam spread from 160 to 325 degrees. Simply put, this beam spread can dramatically affect how a space looks when lit with linear LED. There are specific applications for beam angle, and using the incorrect beam angle could achieve undesired results. For example, a 160-degree beam angle will stripe a fixture and also change the optics of the fixture, once again undoing a well-designed project. A 325-degree beam angle lamp will not "stripe" a fixture and will utilize the optics of the fixture much like a fluorescent bulb.

If you are ready to make a change to energy-efficient LED, and a linear T8 LED seems like the best solution for you, it’s important to understand the variables you will face when confronted with this sizable purchase.

Next Steps for a Successful Lighting Project

  • Look for a neutral vendor, one pushing a single product line or manufacturer should be avoided. Choose someone that can explain the differences between products and price points so you can choose the solution that best fits your needs.

  • Ensure you have partnered with a lighting designer that has seen a variety of these lamps perform. One challenge that we face with this constantly improving technology is that photometric data on the lamps can’t be paired with IES fixture files in some instances.

  • Ask for case studies in industries similar to yours, or ask to see some products in action. It can be very helpful to see these lamps in person.

  • Ask for a test in your space. You may want to hire a reputable lighting partner to install a test area to be sure the results are what you want, and meet your lighting project goals.

  • Consider whether or not you need to increase light levels. Ask whether lighting controls would make sense for your business and lighting project goals. Both of these can impact how much energy a lighting project could save for your organization.

  • Always consult the utility company’s rebate guide to get the system with the most rebate incentive, a higher priced system may result in a lower NET project cost based on rebates. Without understanding these rebate structures, you may be leaving money on the table.

 

Deeply consider how you would like to approach your lighting upgrade investment, are you simply looking for greater energy efficiency, or do you want to improve lighting, reduce maintenance expenses, and step in to the future with a well-designed system? If you would like to know more about the benefits of a lighting retrofit beyond energy savings, we recommend our article outlining 6 other reasons to retrofit beyond money and energy savings.

If you're ready to get started with your energy efficient lighting upgrade, contact our constultants today!

Consult a Lighting Pro

 

3 Types of Linear LED Tubes

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There are 3 general types of T8 LED tubes used in LED lighting retrofit projects. In this post we evaluate each of these LED linear tube options, sharing best uses, and some pros and cons. If you haven't yet read the previous introduction LED T8 technology, we recommend our post called  "T8 LED LIGHTING RETROFIT INTRODUCTION & SAFETY." Keep reading to learn about the three types and how they can benefit your energy efficient lighting upgrade.

TYPE A LINEAR LED TUBES

Type A Lamps are a fluorescent ballast compatible lamp with exceptions. These exceptions are expansive, in fact almost every manufacturer suggests consulting their list of compatibilities before installing LED T8 tubes. We have found that there are even scenarios where the LED lamp product is not compatible with ballasts from the same manufacturer.

The benefits of this type are that they come in different wattages and beam angles, and lumen output for this type can be controlled by the existing ballast: Low Power (LP), Normal Power (NP), and High Power (HP). Most often, these lamps are installed as a simple “relamp” project, but it is important to consider the age of your ballasts when choosing this type. If you intend to change ballasts the week after you install these LED lamps, that may undermine the goals and objectives of your project. Whether or not type A is going to be the best solution for your project depends greatly on your maintenance story.

TYPE B LINEAR LED TUBES

Type B lamps are a direct wire lamp, the most dangerous of the three. This lamp requires the ballast to be removed and the sockets wired direct to line voltage. This system will also require an un-shunted socket, where terminals on the ballast are wired independently. Even though the fixtures are to be marked as having a direct wired lamp, the potential for an LED ballast or LED driver type lamp being installed is great. This will cause severe problems including lamp failure, sparking, even fires. Because you eliminate the need for a ballast, these lamps are chosen when trying to maximize maintenance savings, but safety must be part of the overall consideration to choose a lamp of this type. We have shared a quick video that demonstrates how easily this fire hazard can occur

TYPE c LINEAR LED TUBES

Type C Lamps are an LED lamp with a fixture mounted driver, the drivers are now available with three different standard outputs as well as programmable for more or less output depending on the light levels required. The Type C lamp is also similar to an LED fixture, as you have a light engine and a separate driver. These lamps aren’t considered nearly as often as they should be. They typically offer the longest life, and dimming capability that the others do not. The reason they’re not chosen as often is due to their higher price point. Total Cost of Owning a lighting system should be evaluated when considering whether these are affordable for your project. The type C lamp has just recently achieved controllability using different Mili-amp Drivers. The drivers are more expensive, but in some instances the will achieve a higher lamp life rating 60,000 versus 50,000 hours.

 

Curious about what a LED retrofit can do? Check out our collection of case studies!

read more case studies on TRC blog

T8 LED Lighting Retrofit Introduction & Safety

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Are you considering a lighting upgrade and have you investigated replacing your T8 fluorescent lamps with T8 LED linear tubes for energy efficiency? This is a wonderful leap in the lighting world, affording lighting designers, facility managers, and other contractors the ability to essentially retrofit existing fluorescent fixtures with LED linear tube options. It can be seen to have benefits and cost savings over a major redesign and new lighting system overhaul; however, there are many considerations to be aware of as you begin planning your lighting project if you only intend to replace fluorescent tubes with LED tubes. Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as just changing a light bulb. Keep reading to learn some of the pitfalls and concerns to keep in mind as you learn about LED T8 lamps.

Be careful when selecting LED T8 replacement tubes

True lighting designers design spaces to be illuminated so they meet industry light level standards and the needs of the people who occupy a space allowing them to effectively do their work. After all, the lighting required in a retail setting or a classroom will be dramatically different than what is expected in a manufacturing facility or operating room.

In the days of fluorescent lighting great design was achieved with the correct combination of lamps, ballasts, and reflectors to gain maximum lighting for as little wattage input as possible using photometric design. This meant that these spaces were as energy-efficient as possible while maintaining adequate light levels for the activity taking place in them. Since the advent of LED technology, specifically Linear LED Tubes, many facilities are looking to make the leap into even greater efficiency by replacing their existing fluorescent tubes with linear LED tubes. See some recommended light levels for specific industries and types of tasks here.

Without replacing the fixtures, linear LED lamps allow facilities to effectively retrofit their fluorescent technology to something more efficient with relative ease. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, unfortunately there are many variables among the available LED tube products and selecting the wrong one to update your existing fixture could lead to a poor outcome ranging from being over lit or ruining your existing lighting design, to dramatic malfunctions that end up being an outright dangerous fire hazard.

In our next Linear T8 LED blog post, we will discuss three types of LED tubes, the scenarios where you might find them, and the potential outcome of incorrect energy efficient lighting retrofit procedure. While we know this technology to be effective, safe, energy-efficient, and that it looks great when properly installed, it is most definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Are you ready to learn more about planning for your LED lighting retrofit project? Read "How Much Does A Retrofit Cost?"

Get a Free E-Book

Exterior LED Lighting Upgrade

This hotel had inefficient metal halide and incandescent lamps lighting the exterior of their building, with many burned out lamps. The result was a poor quality light that demanded a fair amount of attention and money to maintain. Business managers decided to take action and develop a plan for their exterior LED lighting upgrade with help from The Retrofit Companies.

Before the installation of new lamps and fixtures, TRC project developers came on site to do an 'audit' or count of every type of lamp, wattage, and placement for each that existed in the hotel's exterior lighting system. With this model and insight of the client's goals, the project developer selects new, energy-efficient lighting options to build a new system. Reports are generated to show existing versus proposed lighting systems that calculate energy-savings, environmental impact, and anticipated utility cost reductions - even rebates. Keep reading to see the specifics for this project!

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PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Inefficient Metal Halide and Incandescent fixtures retired & recycled
  • Improved light quality
  • Annual savings over $2699
  • Dramatically reduced maintenance costs with long life technology
  • New fixtures contain no mercury
  • LED works great in cold weather

PROJECT SUMMARY FACTS

  • Annual lighting cost for exterior lighting reduced by 76%
  • Utility Rebate for this project was $3393
  • kW & kWh reduction = 24%

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS
Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 19.5

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 3.8
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 2180
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 6.78

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Interested in more lighting case study examples? We have shared many!

Read more lighting case studies

 

Recycling Collection Events in Minnesota

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Each spring and fall, communities throughout Minnesota hold special waste recycling days for their residents. The Retrofit Companies is called in as a partner at these events, where many times there are multiple vendors to collect all types of waste that cannot or should not be disposed of in the landfill. Those items range from tires and paint, to appliances, batteries, and computers that require proper disposal. Some events have paper shredding, even yard waste collection services, available to their residents. Keep reading to see how one of our parters responded after their recent community recycling collectin programs event.

Hi Everyone,

The spring cleanup is over!  It was a busy one this year- whew!  I am glad that we had such good partners to make the event successful and available to residents! I would like to pass on my thanks to everyone from your organization who worked the event.  Every single worker was happy to be there and seemed to be smiling through the event (even if they didn’t stop moving until after event).   There were no issues and the only comments from residents seems to be about the wonderful weather!   

I would appreciate if you could send me an invoice with the weights and quantities in the next few weeks so that I can update our Council with the outcome of the event. 

Again, I wish to pass on my thanks to your employees who worked the event and I look forward to working with you in the future.

I have attached some photos from the event to this email!  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to send me an email or give me a jingle on the phone!   

Chris S.
Environmental/Code Specialist
City of Maplewood MN

 

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 How to plan your community recycling day

Understanding LED Maintenance Challenges (Link)

We like this article from Electrical Contractor Magazine about the challenges that users might experience regarding lighting maintenance and LED upkeep. Many manufacturers and installers may try and convince you that LED is it he ultimate set it and forget it solution, and while that sentiment feels true compared to the regular maintenance required by fluorescent lighting system, there are still a few considerations to keep in mind regarding LED maintenance.

This article discusses reliability of LED lighting, understanding lamp life with respect to useful lamp life, and how to understand variables in product quality across brands. It concludes with some overlooked maintenance factors for LED: cleaning, controls, and proactive troubleshooting

Concise and easily understood, we recommend you check this one out!

Has your old, unused material become Explosive?

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UPDATED MARCH 2017

We are often asked to properly dispose of hazardous wastes that have collected over many years, for schools and all types of businesses. These are chemicals and products that were used for maintenance, or in a lab or classroom at one time, that have outlived their usefulness. These products often spend many years in a back room, storage closet, or shed, and aren't easy to dispose of alongside standard trash items. It is important to safely and responsibly handle these products, as many product characteristics change over time and some even become unstable and explosive. Today we will share with you a specific type of compound that we come across quite often, that does just that.

 

WHAT IS A "PEROXIDE FORMING-COMPOUND?"

Peroxides are a class of chemical compounds with unusual stability problems and are one of the most hazardous classes of chemicals routinely handled in the laboratory.

Peroxides can be formed via intentional chemical reactions (i.e., ozonolysis), but just as hazardous is inadvertent peroxide formation during storage of certain compounds. Some compounds form explosive peroxides. Others are polymerizable unsaturated compounds that can participate in a runaway, explosive polymerization reaction catalyzed by peroxides. To varying degrees, shock, heat, or friction may cause unexpected explosion of peroxidized organic chemicals.
SOURCE

We talked with Nick, one of our Environmental Specialists, and asked a few questions about benzoyl peroxide compounds and the proper way to handle hazardous waste disposal for these chemicals.

Where does this compound come from- why is it dangerous?

The product shown above was originally the cream hardener used to set automotive body filler. The primary active ingredient is an organic peroxide called Benzoyl Peroxide. This type of chemical, along with quite a few others, can form shock sensitive peroxide crystals as they age and dry out. Essentially, they turn into explosives over time. These aren’t stable explosives like C4 that require a large amount of energy to set them off though. They are very unstable and can explode seemingly spontaneously.

Are these compounds prevalent? Aside from the automotive body filler, what sort of products can this happen to?

I come across chemicals that we suspect have become explosive fairly regularly. In addition to automotive body filler, we see these types of chemicals in other common products. Many types of activators and catalysts for two part systems contain either benzoyl peroxide or methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, both of which can become unstable. In addition, there are a number of common laboratory solvents which can form unstable peroxide crystals. The two most common solvents we come across that exhibit these characteristics are tetrahydrofuran and ethyl ether.

What do you do when you arrive on a job site and find them?

When we encounter these materials we segregate them as safely as possible and work with the customer and a team of reactive specialists to safely remove the materials from the site.

What should our clients do if they find something like this or think they might have one of these compounds on site? How can they safely address this or identify a safety concern?

In the case of an emergency, they should always call 911. If it is a non-emergency situation, then we can help. It is important not to disturb the materials any more than necessary. I typically recommend that the area be quarantined to the best of the customer’s ability. Once you notify your TRC Environmental Representative, we will work to find a resolution ASAP.

Thanks, Nick. That was really helpful! 

If you have old material that is not being used at your facility, it is probably time to safely remove it! Click below to read the interview with one of our clients who had this waste in their facility. Find out how they were able to safely manage and properly dispose of it!

Managing Haz Waste in Schools Interview

Interview: Chemical Waste Clean Up in Schools

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Today we talk to Dan Swanson, Building and Grounds Supervisor at Hermantown Schools about his recent first experience with The Retrofit Companies’ environmental services division. Dan is very near his retirement and working to tie up loose ends before he leaves his facility to the new supervisor. One of his looming jobs was to safely and responsibly take care of special wastes that had accumulated over the years. He chose to hire TRC for the first time ever to handle this chemical waste clean up project, and was willing to take some time to share the story with us. Let’s see what he has to say!

 

How did you hear about TRC? 

Your rep contacted me by e-mail. The timing was right, we needed the service, so I got in touch with them.

 

What made you decide to work with us? And what services did TRC provide for you?

We had a fair amount of hazardous waste build-up. There were a lot of things to take care of: paint, cleaning solutions, lights, etc. Our local waste company required us to inventory all the waste prior to disposal, but with TRC, they came and did all that.

 

Was TRC staff experienced & knowledgeable; were we able to provide a meaningful partnership and make your chemical clean up successful?

They did a great job. We had a short time line and everything just worked out. Our district is building new schools, and I’m set to retire shortly. It was important to take care of the waste before the new guy takes over.

 

How responsive was your TRC Sales Rep to your questions or concerns?

They are very responsive. Our clean-up project was taken care of in just a couple weeks from the first time I called.

 

Tell us about scheduling your cleanup – Were we able to fit your ideal schedule?

I had a small window of time and TRC was very helpful in meeting that time requirement. It took the stress away.

 

Tell us about your perception of value for the hazardous waste recycling service provided. Was it a good value compared to any other vendors that also provided quotes for the same project?
TRC was competitively priced, and we were happy with the quality of their service.

 

What advice would you give to other schools that wish clean out their chemical wastes?

Hire someone like TRC to handle it from start to finish. It was a big process, and your guys made it so much easier.

 

Would you recommend us to your colleagues? If yes, what was the greatest benefit you received by working with us?
Yes.  It takes a lot of pressure off of you by having a qualified company handle it in a proper way.

 

Thanks for the interview, Dan! We're happy to hear that your experience was a good one. It really does sound like managing hazardous waste was made simpler by working with TRC.

When you are ready to clean up the hazardous and chemical waste in your facility, learn how to choose a reputable hazardous waste vendor or get our inventory kit for free!

Hazardous Waste inventory help

How to Find a Great Lighting Consultant

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As you begin researching for your lighting upgrade, looking for lighting consultants, architects, electrical contractors, or other energy experts use this five point check list to see if they are the lighting design partner that you want working on your energy efficient lighting project. It's the best advice we can share when it comes to how to find a great lighting consultant.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL

How much experience does your chosen lighting contractor have designing, building, and installing successful lighting systems? Is your partner a lighting designer or are you working with an electrical contractor cashing in on keywords like "Energy Efficiency"? We recommend avoiding the LED salesman who hustles to sell as many as possible of a specific product without consideration of your needs. Look for a trusted partner, someone who can answer the important questions. We recommend reading our article "11 Questions to Ask a Lighting Contractor."


FINANCIAL PROOF

There are financial benefits beyond energy savings and reduced utility costs as a result of a lighting retrofit or upgrade. Lower overhead expenses, reduction in maintenance costs, return on investment, and overall cost of ownership should be demonstrated so you can fully understand your project's impact to the bottom line. A qualified lighting partner will help you understand that savings can be derived of many avenues and show you those numbers.


VENDOR NEUTRALITY

Avoid being pigeonholed by contractors or sales people that only sell specific brands or products and nothing else. Some companies sell only specific product lines, without taking into consideration your lighting needs. You deserve the best-fit products for your lighting system, to meet your lighting and sustainability goals.


FUTURE PLANNING

Is the design of your lighting system going to take into consideration any short or long term changes in your business, or how the space in your facility is being utilized? Are the new products (fixtures and bulbs) to be installed in your new system easy to acquire? Are they affordable? Be sure that your chosen contractor has a long term plan for you, and that your new lighting products (lamps, drivers, etc.) are easily availalbe and affordable.

SMART COMPARISONS

Are you confident you can accurately compare bids from multiple vendors? Don't compare apples to oranges. We recommend starting smart by investing in a lighting study - start your project with a document in hand that carefully takes into consideration your facility, your goals, and your specific required outcomes. An investment grade audit document will help you do that. 

LEARN EVERYTHING ABOUT INVESTMENT GRADE AUDITS - DOWNLOAD OUR EBOOK TODAY!

E-book: Why should you invest in a lighting study?

Xcel Energy LED Retrofit Rebates Expanded

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Beginning July 1, 2016 Excel Energy is expanding their LED lighting rebate offerings for retrofit projects and new construction. Significant to this update is the inclusion of another type of 4 foot LED linear tube rebate for retrofit projects valued at $6 per lamp. Benefits for other tube type LED retrofits range from $2 to $10 per tube based on type.

The entire rebate structure for retrofits and new construction projects is available online for you here. This utility rebate program is available to Minnesota business customers of Xcel Energy.

Other rebate types for LED upgrades included in this program:

  • Exterior lighting such as parking garages, wall packs, parking lot, canopy lights and area lights.
  • Refrigeration lighting for freezers and refrigerators in convenience and grocery stores
  • Interior lighting including troffers, linear tubes, screw-ins, hibay and low bay lighting, and exit signs

 

Why upgrade to LEDs?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LEDs offer the potential for cutting general lighting energy use nearly in half by 2030, saving energy dollars and carbon emissions in the process. Additionally, they offer several advantages over conventional lighting:

  • A long life span, typically up to 50,000 hours or more, which can greatly reduce replacement and maintenance costs
  • They create a bright, shadow-free environment that can improve the safety and comfort of your employees and customers
  • Durability and reliability, they’re less prone to breakage and contain no mercury  
    Read the LED Information Sheet here.

 

If you're ready to learn more about how to get a rebate for your lighting project, please contact one of our lighting design experts today!

Consult a Lighting Pro

Aerosol Can Recycling Process

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Aerosol can disposal has recently undergone some changes in Minnesota and The Retrofit Companies has designed a program for Minnesota businesses to take advantage of these new regulations. Under this program TRC accepts waste aerosols for recycling or disposal on our Universal Waste Bill of Lading. Aerosols may be packaged into any of our UN-rated shipping containers and picked up on our truck with your other universal wastes. No additional paperwork is required.

Aerosols are shipped to our Licensed Universal Waste Collection Facility in Little Canada, MN for additional sorting/processing. Waste aerosols are then shipped to our partner disposal facility where they are fully drained. Finally, the drained liquids and gases are blended into fuel or incinerated and the empty cans are recycled as scrap metal. In essence this process is converting the waste into heat energy.

Under the new regulations, Minnesota businesses will no longer be allowed to depressurize aerosols at their facility unless they fully capture all of the gas and liquid inside. Previously many business owners were using a depressurizing system which only filtered the escaping gases. These gases were then being released into our atmosphere. Under our program all the contents of each aerosol are captured, preventing any release to the atmosphere.

For questions about this process or how to get started with aerosol can recycling, please contact our Haz Team today.

If you are ready for a pick up at your Minnesota business:

Schedule a pick up for your aerosol waste

Aerosol Can Recycling as Universal Waste in Minnesota

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The MPCA has officially adopted aerosols into the universal waste program.  Aerosol cans may now be recycled on our standard Universal Waste Bill of Lading with TRC in the state of Minnesota. When you schedule a pick up for other recyclable waste like, fluorescent lamps, batteries, electronic waste (computers), or mercury, you can now add in any waste aerosol cans without additional paperwork under TRC's new program for these common wastes. 

WHAT IS AEROSOL SPRAY?

Aerosol spray is a type of dispensing system which creates an aerosol mist of liquid particles. This is used with a can or bottle that contains a payload and propellant under pressure. When the container's valve is opened, the payload is forced out of a small hole and emerges as an aerosol or mist... (wikipedia.com)

 

WASTE AEROSOLS ACCEPTED UNDER TRC PROGRAM:

  • Spray Paints
  • Air Fresheners
  • Spray Foam Insulation
  • Oven Cleaners
  • Insecticide Sprays
  • Spray lubricants
  • And many more…

COMMONLY MISTAKEN WASTES NOT ACCEPTED UNDER TRC PROGRAM:

  • Propane gas cylinders
  • MAP gas cylinders
  • Automotive refrigerants
  • Lighters/fluid refills
  • Calibration gas cylinders
  • Spray foam (cylinders)
  • Engine starter (cylinders)

The Retrofit Companies has designed this program for businesses in Minnesota as an outlet to simplify aerosol can recycling, this includes containers with a spray nozzle top or valve where pressurized contents are released as a mist. Although, pressurized gas containers are not considered a part of this program; TRC can help you responsibly dispose of them, just contact our Haz Team anytime! (All businesses outside of Minnesota, our team is still able to assist in finding the best, proper recycling or disposal method for you. Contact our Haz Team)

If you are ready for a pick up at your Minnesota business:

Schedule a pick up for your aerosol waste

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