The Retrofit Companies Blog

Wendy Fry Featured in Local Magazine

 

Wendy River Valley Woman

River Valley Woman Magazine

Applauding the dynamic women of the MN River Valley.

Wendy Fry, the fearless President of The Retrofit Companies, Inc., is featured in this month's newly released edition of River Valley Woman Magazine. It should come as no surprise that Wendy was approached by the magazine when the mission of their publication is to applaud and support successful women of the MN River Valley.

Wendy's success story is worth a read, not to mention the insights that she shares with readers regarding how to find success in any business. Take it from the woman that worked her way up through the ranks and finds herself at the helm of a decades-long successful business that is growing at a rapid pace in the Lighting and Environmental Services industries. 

 

 

 


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Wendy Fry, President of The Retrofit Companies, Inc., featured in River Valley Woman Magazine, August, 2018.

  

Want to learn more about TRC and how you can become part of our successful team? Check out our job openings in your area.

TRC Lighting Division Jobs


TRC Environmental Jobs 

 

Rebate Cuts Proposed by Xcel Energy


 

led stock photoAre you planning a lighting upgrade project this year? 

Your rebates through Xcel Energy may be changing as soon as September, 2018. 
 

 

 

 

Will these changes impact me?

New rebate levels have been proposed in Minnesota to the Xcel Energy Commercial Lighting Efficiency Program. If approved, these changes may go into effect as early as September 1, 2018. If you are planning a lighting project this year, the new details of Xcel's rebate program may impact you.

More information on Xcel Energy's rebate programs can be found here; if you have questions or want to clarify how this will impact your project with TRC, be sure to contact your account manager or call us at 800-795-1230.

 

 

xcel rebate proposed changes
Rebate Categories with Proposed Changes:
 
  • LED troffers
  • LED exterior lighting
  • Lighting Controls
  • Shelf-stocking LED lamps
  • Fluorescents

 

Download Xcel Energy Rebate Changes
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Industry Expert NALMCO Highlights LED Project

LM&M Magazine

 

A Must-Read in the Lighting Industry.

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

 

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

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

 

LM&M May Cover

 

 

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

Talk to a Lighting Expert

 

 

5 Ways Lighting Can Save Our Planet

 

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

 

Lighting Can Save the Planet - Infographic

How-To Find the Best Energy Rebates


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

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

Step 1: Make rebates easy

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

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

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

Step 2: Know your market

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

Step 3: find the right rebate program

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

Xcel Energy

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

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CEE (Xcel Energy territory program)

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

SMMPA (Southern MN Municipal Power Agency)

  • Prescriptive and custom rebates

Step 4: take it a step further for more savings

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

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

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

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant


 

Lakeville School District - Lighting Case Study

 

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

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BEFORE: Parking lot with light pollution

PROBLEM:

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

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AFTER: Parking Lot with no light pollution

ANALYSIS AND SOLUTION:

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

Lakeville photometrics.pngEastview Elementary School Exterior Photometrics

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

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BEFORE: Basketball Court 

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

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

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AFTER: Basketball Court

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

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

 

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consult our haz waste team

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

Consult a Lighting Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

(In case you missed it, here is his last interview: http://blog.retrofitcompanies.com/blog/interview-with-wausau-supply-hid-to-led )

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Very impressive! Satisfaction beyond our expectations!!"

 

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

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

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

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

THANK YOU DARIN!

BEFORE:

Wausau before.jpg

 

AFTER:

Wausau after.jpg

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

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

read more case studies on TRC blog

Xcel Energy Efficiency Awards 2017

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

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

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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

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

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?

Auto Sales Lot LED Lighting Retrofit

UPDATED APRIL 2017

Many lighting projects focus on the inside of a facility, but there are many businesses that require high-quality, energy-efficient lighting for their exteriors. Auto sales lots are a great example of a business that needs exceptional exterior lighting. Their "sales floor" is their entire parking lot, there lighting shows off there product, and customers can see what is on display at all hours. Incentives are also getting better to upgrade exterior lighting, even though the energy-usage is lower during peak hours.

Let's take a closer look at a specific TRC project for a car lot:

This client took initiative to educate himself about the kind of fixture and results that he wanted for the auto lot at his business. He needed an evenly lit lot to make the cars look great when people come by to shop. He wanted to make sure that all potential customers are presented with a memorable first impression during off hours. The secondary goal was to achieve fewer shadowy areas so the lot is safer at night. An LED lighting retrofit and energy efficient redesign is an obvious savings solution. Let's take a closer look::

Goals for this Auto Sales Lot redesign and retrofit:

  • to improve energy efficiency

  • to improve the overall 'look' of the fixtures 

  • to reduce maintenance expenses

  • to improve light quality, achieve even lighting, and increase perception of safety

Let's see how a custom lighting design by TRC stacked up against a 'cookie cutter' option where fixtures are just replaced with energy-efficient options instead of a redesign. We compare photometrics and see the competitor’s one-for-one replacement retrofit project was 4.6 average foot candles with a whopping max of 50. The result is all the red ‘hot spots’ you see in the graphic below (left). This solution saved energy, so it looked good on paper, but it wasn’t the best design. Most importantly, it did not achieve the client’s goals.

 
 

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TRC's thoughtful system redesign (on the right of the graphic above) achieved the client’s goals and allowed even more savings to be captured. This redesigned system reduced the number of total fixtures, removing 48 unnecessary ones. The new design used custom optics packages on those fixtures to achieve a highly efficient, evenly lit lot with 5.6 average foot candles, and a maximum of 10.4. No hot spots, even light, and tons of energy savings. The client achieved maximum efficiency while decreasing their kW and kWh by 85% overall, and met their project goals!

By replacing their HID fixtures with energy-efficient LED fixtures, this parking lot retrofit is saving the client over $3,800 monthly in lighting costs, over $45,000 annually! Immediately after project completion, these savings began. By simply reducing the amount of energy used, they were able to reduce utility costs.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS: Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 316.6

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 62
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 35,490
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation 3.1
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 110

Given the nature of their retrofit, because they were replacing an outmoded technology with very energy-efficient lighting technology and because they redesigned the lighting system, this facility qualified for a rebate from their utility company to help offset some of the retrofit project cost. They received $53,000 in rebate incentives.

If you are considering a lighting retrofit, energy-savings is definitely on the forefront of your mind, but have you considered the other ways that this efficiency in lighting could help reduce overhead? Many retrofit projects help reduce maintenance costs by standardizing equipment, especially in areas where special equipment, such as a lift, is required just to replace a bulb.•

 Read more lighting case studies

Case Study: Test Fixtures & Exterior Lighting

We're sharing another LED retrofit case study story today. For this exterior lighting project, the client is a company with facilities located nationwide. Their savings goals take into consideration the entire network of facilities, but we can see in this single project area how much of an impact that an HID to LED retrofit can make, visually and in energy savings. Another unique aspect of this story is that because this is a multi-unit business, the client wanted to work toward a unified lighting solution to be used across all their locations. This project began with a lighting project design, and was confirmed effective after a real world test install. I spoke with TRC's lighting project and design consultant to learn more.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the Beta test that you did? 
TRC Lighting Consultant: We started this process in 2013 and installed a pair of 90 watt test fixtures in the west side of the lot. They performed well but the customer decided they wanted a more dramatic increase in light levels and the 136 watt fixture was used. It was the fixture we used in the final project, seen in the photos.

Did TRC do any models or photometric layouts before hanging the test fixtures?
TRC Lighting Consultant: 
We went through several photometric layouts using the client's CAD files from original construction. TRC sometimes builds a photometric model, but we can use other CAD files, if the client has them. Through this process we achieved a well distributed light level in the model and selected the first fixture to try in our real world test.

How many fixtures were in the test?  
TRC Lighting Consultant: The initial mini-test was the two 90 watt fixtures. Once we decided that the 136 watt fixtures gave the desired outcome [more light], 58 of those fixtures were installed in their corporate location as the beta test for all company locations.

How long did the fixtures stay up?
TRC Lighting Consultant: They are there for the duration. These fixtures will remain in place as they are satisfied with the outcome.

Did you test more than one fixture type?
TRC Lighting Consultant:  We used just one fixture type, but experimented with lower wattage and optimized to what you see here.

Will TRC install these same fixtures at all the client's locations now? 
TRC Lighting Consultant:  That this is the best lighting solution for the client and their needs, is the hope and dream confirmed by this test. When they are ready to upgrade the other locations will depend on rebate structures and utility rate plans, and how those factors influence the overall project viability. TRC builds the project models with the fixture we know will work best for them, and after taking all the financial factors into consideration, the client will decide which project locations make the most financial sense for their business.

I also briefly spoke to the client, we asked why were they motivated to do this project & what has been the response to this dramatic change? The client said they knew an update was needed, but the beta test convinced them what a noticable diffference they would see by upgrading the lighting system. The guest's responses were also very strong, "I feel safer, WOW!"

Below are some sets of before & after photos and project details, notice the rebate the client recevied for this project:

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NW-lot-after.jpg

PROJECT DETAILS

  • Replaced 400 Watt Metal Halide Area Lights with 135 watt LED fixtures with custom optics package.
  • Existing lighting had multiple hot and cold spots.
  • The new lighting offered superior distribution giving users of the parking lot a sense of confidence and security. 
  • The fixtures installed also offer L95 Light levels at 100,000 hours.
  • New system eliminates any maintenance costs for 10 years.
  • 70% reduction in energy usage and utility costs.
  • Project qualified for over almost $13k in utility rebates.

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If you are interested in more information about outdoor lighting safety & savings, keep reading.

 Outdoor Lighting, LED Retrofit Case Study

How a Single Variable Can Ruin a Lighting Project

In this comparison we're going to look at one promising lighting project, designed with energy-efficient LED fixtures to replace aging and costly CFL fixtures. However, the initial outcome of the project was horrible, and didn't give nearly the results the client was looking for when they decided to do a lighting upgrade. The premise of this story is that it's important to do your homework for every project, to look at photometrics, understand the products that are being specified in your project, and know how they will perform in real life. This knowledge is paramount to project success. Let's examine the project and how the tiniest change in a fixture almost ruined it.


Here's the before photo of the project area, a gymnasium. The existing CFL high bay lighting system was 66 total fixtures, each containing eight lamps, four ballasts, and using 42 watts per lamp. Fixtures are designed on a fairly dense grid, and the light quality appears to be pretty good, but we know these fixtures are burning a ton of energy. This system also required more regular maintenance than an LED system would require; aside from the energy savings, maintenance savings was a big consideration for doing this project. Even though this isn't a very old system and was engineered to be efficient, no consideration was given to the cost of future maintenance.  With lamp prices exceeding $15 and ballast prices in the $20s, we know how much it must have cost to maintain.  


Fixture-Before

A new lighting system was designed using LED fixtures. Successfully, half of the fixtures were removed, light levels were increased in the new lighting design, and this customer was set to save $6,700 in lighting costs annually. Looking at this second photo, you can probably tell something was wrong with this installation, but whatThe correct fixture was installed, after all. The answer is the LED optics, the way the light is directed from the fixture, was incorrect. The system was designed to put a specific amount of light onto the floor, without considering vertical footcandles. These incorrect optics led to a scalloped effect on the wall. You can see in the next photo, the incorrect optics are casting these cave-like shadows, and make the room look awfully under lit. Keep in mind, this fixture is the same fixture specified, technically: it reduces energy usage by 65%, has a long life to reduce maintenance costs, and is an "LED hi-bay" fixture. After some research and working with project developers, it was determined that a low bay optic would provide must more uniform lighting all the way up the wall.

Fixture-Incorrect-Optics

The point of sharing this story is to say that the success of any lighting project is in the details. In the final photo below, you can see the project area with the same fixture used in the second photo, but now with the correct optics. It's the project envisioned from the start, with successful results. 

Imagine in this scenario, the same project is being presented by two different lighting contractors. The quotes presented to the customer both promise dramatic energy savings and reduced maintenance costs that match the project goals. Imagine further that you were purchasing this lighting project, and that each quote you received is equal in cost. How would you know which project to purchase? Looking at the results photos for incorrect optics and the final after photo here, which would you want? This is an issue that can happen any time two energy-efficient lighting designs are presented by different contractors. In this example, the only variable in the final results is one digit in a fixture code. The fixture manufacturer, layout, installation, and project area are all the same. 

Fixture-After

We're sharing this project with you to highlight the extreme importance of comparing apples-to-apples when you compare lighting projects. Here are our top three tips to be sure you are making good comparisons:

1) Compare the total number of fixtures being installed on the proposal to the number of existing fixtures. Are these numbers the same on each quote?
2) Ask for photometrics for your project. This will tell you the existing and anticipated foot candles in your project area. Which proposal's photometric layout meets your project goals?
3) Investigate and compare the cut sheets for the proposed fixtures to be installed. Are you really comparing the same variables? (wattage, lumens, and fixture life)

Read more by downloading "11 Questions You Should Ask a Lighting Contractor" or our ebook, "How Much Does a Retrofit Cost?" for more insight on project planning for your lighting upgrade.

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor


How much does a retrofit cost?

Why Invest in a Lighting Audit?

Energy-efficiency is a direct path to savings and makes a positive impact to the bottom line for many businesses, but you may be wondering "What's the point in investing in a lighting study," or investment grade audit? We believe there is a singular and simple reason why an Investment Grade Audit is the best way to help prepare for your lighting project investment.

Whether you purchase your study from TRC, another energy service company, electrical contractor, retrofitter, engineer, or architect, our theory is really simple: You shouldn't have to become a lighting expert to expertly buy a complicated lighting project.

More often than not, you want to invest in a lighting upgrade because it makes sense for your business to do so. However, you may not have considered why an investment grade lighting study is the best way to begin. It's the first decision you can make that will allow every consecutive decision to take off in the right direction and result in a successful lighting project.

With an investment grade audit you have an RFP you can submit to several vendors. Inviting several firms in to your business to bid the work you want done will inevitably result in an equal number of very different bids left for you to compare. An Investment Grade Audit arms you with a standardized bid document where fixture counts, operating hours, equipment specs, and every other possible project variable -aside from vendor- are the same, making your job slightly easier. With all the "lighting expert" variables accounted for and all the critical data already collected, you can be sure the project proposals provided by multiple vendors allows you to compare "Apples to Apples."

Your job at that point is to choose a vendor based on price, reliability, availability, experience, corporate buying preferences, or whatever credentials make the most sense for your business. Investing in a lighting study means you've taken the first step toward due diligence. You have reduced the likelihood that you could have been presented with a good looking project based on sub-par data.

To help you in decision making when trying to choose the right partner for your investment grade audit, here are the categories of reports included in an Investment Grade Audit from The Retrofit Companies: 

  • In-depth details on your existing lighting system
  • Existing energy cost benchmarking
  • In-depth details on the proposed (new) lighting system
  • Proposed system operating costs & annual savings
  • Line by line cost-benefit analysis
  • Operational and Maintenance savings comparisons
  • Fixture cut sheets for proposed equipment
  • Photometric layouts for existing and proposed
  • Rebate studies & submittal forms

 

For full explanations of the reports listed above and for more information about Investment Grade Audits, download our e-book here:

 

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

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