The Retrofit Companies Blog

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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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?

 

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

 

What are the other benefits of upgraded lighting?

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Since starting this blog, The Retrofit Companies has worked to share our lighting retrofit case studies and stories about lighting retrofit projects that address a range of topics beyond energy-savings and efficiency. However, we know your time is valuable, and you probably don't have an hour or two to find each one and read them all. So, this post summarizes a few topics that are very relevant in today's lighting project landscape. Each of these projects started saving money and energy as soon as the project was completed, but they also address other project goals. Keep reading to see six lighting design and retrofit projects that summarize a few priorities, aside from efficiency and financial savings, that clients have brought to us when we discussed their project goals.

1 FUNCTION: "We need a lighting system that just works better."

It doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes clients come to us looking for a lighting solution to make their lighting system work better for them, overall. In this case study, the facility needed a sustainable, controllable, maintenance-saving lighting system. The existing system in their large production area was all on or all off, no controllability at all. It was also using outdated T12 fluorescent technology. The solution was a combo T8 and LED design with dimming and sensors on the control system. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

2 ONE PIECE AT A TIME: "It's better for us if we don't retrofit EVERYTHING NOW."

Sometimes, a client doesn't have the budget to do an entire project all at once, but they know that a strategic plan of attack can still have dramatic results. When clients decide to address major areas of concern first, or because their budgets necessitate it, they simply do several smaller projects over time. Whether the project is exterior parking lot lights, a gymnasium, or simply common areas like hallways, every reduction in usage can help. This case study shows how one school converted T8 fixtures to a slimmer, lower maintenance cost LED fixture to achieve better aesthetics, more energy savings, and reduced maintenance expenses. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

3 RELIABLE DESIGN: A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR THOSE COMPARING "SIMILAR" proposals

This one is a little more difficult to summarize in under a hundred words, so if this applies to you we recommend clicking through, and also downloading the ebook about investment grade audits. Here's the 10,000 foot view: a lighting redesign project was put together, but one digit in a part number was off, and the project came out a failure. Using the SAME fixture, with correct optics a second time, yielded positive results. Now imagine if this were your project and you were in a position to compare multiple fixtures, from multiple vendors. How could you be sure you're getting the results you want and need? CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

4 WE ARE EFFICIENT: "We already have T8 fixtures, why upgrade?"

Not every project results in dramatically improved lighting, and impressive before and after photos. You may even have a relatively efficient T8 fluorescent system in place now; however, improvements in LED and controls systems can yield impressive results in other ways. In this warehouse's energy efficient redesign project, the customer reduced the number of fixtures in use, decreased maintenance, improved controls with sensors, and of course, they are saving almost $5k in annual lighting costs. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

5 SAFETY, MAINTENANCE & AESTHETICS: Thoughtful design results keep on giving!

Here a client came to us with an idea in mind, he even had a fixture chosen and several goals to achieve. Read this one to see how a custom design improved energy-efficiency AND improved the look of the fixtures, reduced maintenance expenses, and improved safety on site. Remember that great planning and utilizing the correct LED optics in your new design vs simply retrofitting one-for-one with an efficient fixture can bring your project to the next level and meet a range of goals! CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

6 SOLUTION FOR MULtIPLE LOCATIONS: Again with the importance of planning? Yes.

This last one has some really impressive before & after photos, but the importance of noting this is to showcase one last time how planning ahead will yield the best results. We interview a client about their decision to beta test a solution for multiple locations nationwide, and hear from the lighting rep on the project about some aspects of planning. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

If you're on the decision-making road to energy efficient lighting projects and planning, we recommend arming yourself with as much info as you can so you can ask smart questions. 

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

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

Retrofit Case Study: Interior and Exterior Lighting Upgrades

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This church and school decided it was time to update the look of their facility and invest in energy-efficiency by implementing this full facility lighting upgrade and retrofit. The areas addressed in this project ranged from office and classrooms, to a gymnasium/auditorium, and a sanctuary space that required a dynamic lighting control system.

While some fixtures were in fine condition, others needed to be replaced. One major project requirement was to be sure that all the lighting was appropriate for the spaces, since this building had such varied spaces and uses. TRC lighting consultants built a custom lighting system for each area to maximize energy savings. Another goals for this project was to streamline technology, remove all inefficient lighting like T12 fluorescent and aging CFL lamps, and to replace those with more efficient T8 fluorescent and LED options. The result is that the client does not need to stock as many varieties of lamps now, because more fixtures are using the same lamp type, or a long life technology (LED) was installed.

Take a look how this institution is using LED updates to control costs, mitigate maintenance expenses, AND save energy! 

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Environmental Impact (Carbon Savings)

  • Total Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 40.2 Metric Tons
  • 7.9 Passenger cars not driven for one year
  • 4,507.8 Gallons of gasoline saved 
  • 0.4 Acres of forest preserved from deforestation
  • 14.01 Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled

The new exterior fixtures are more subdued, they blend into the surroundings and they protect the night sky by directing light only to the ground and not upward as the old globes did. The structure of the new fixtures also prevent light pollution by avoiding any upward directional light.

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 PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Inefficient T12 & CFL fixtures retrofitted
  • All old lamps removed & responsibly recycled
  • Color temperatures unified in each area for a better look
  • New lighting layout for maximum efficiency in sanctuary
  • Decreased kW& kWh by ~60% overall
  • Project rebate over $13,00
  • Annual savings over $6,600 / nearly $550 a month!
  • New LED system in sanctuary is programmable
  • Cut maintenance costs with long life technology
  • Modern LED exterior fixtures protect night sky

 We urge you to read about more lighting project case studies, or get our e-book "How Much Does a Retrofit Cost?"

 Read more lighting case studies

VIDEO of LED Motion Sensor Test in Warehouse

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The video here shows the fixtures in action that we discussed in this warehouse lighting redesign case study. This space was redesigned to include energy-efficient LED fixtures on a system of motion sensors that control the on/off of fixtures as people and equipment, like the forklift seen in the video, move through the spaces. Take a look to see the both the rapid movement and slow movement tests.

 

 For more information on energy-efficient lighting design and starting your project off right, read our e-book to determine if an investment grade audit or lighting design study makes sense for you:

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

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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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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North-lot-after.jpg

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

 Outdoor Lighting, LED Retrofit Case Study

Instant 400 watt reduction with led retrofit

This recent lighting retrofit case study comes from a larger project completed by The Retrofit Companies. We thought this was not only a visually impactful set of before & after photos, but energy use was reduced over 400 watts for each fixture replaced!

The existing system (Before) was constructed for this atrium area, totalling 8 fixtures. Each fixture contained one 400 watt metal halide lamp. As you can see, those lamps had degraded and the light quality was suffering. We see the furthest left fixture with a new LED retrofit giving a bright white light, and the next two fixtures casting a blue-greenish light. A very noticeable difference. And even though the light quality in these HID (metal halide) lamps had decreased over time, they still used 454 watts per fixture.

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Below we see the finished area, entirely retrofitted with LED fixtures. The light cast onto the ceiling of this atrium is bright white and evenly dispersed. Now each fixture uses only 45 watts, and has an expected life of 50,000 hours. Since these fixtures are operating 24/7, that means that they should remain maintenance-free for over five and a half years!

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If you liked this, read more project case studies!

Read more lighting case studies

Lighting Redesign Using LED Technology

A lot of the time, we judge lighting projects on the very dramatic before and after photos we see. That's certainly a very interesting and immediate way to judge success of a project, does it look better afterward? Well, not all projects look dramatically different before and after, even in the case of this lighting redesign. However, the results for this project are dramatic and easily measured. Keep reading and find out how this facility is saving almost $5k in lighting costs and more than $1k in anticipated maintenance expenses every year.

LED Lighting before and after

This warehouse facility originally housed 153 T8 High Bay fixtures, utilizing 32 watt and 25 watt lamps in 4 and 6 lamp configurations. The maintenance team was responsible for nearly 800 individual lamps. Visible in the before photo above, you can see the space was fairly well lit, but there were some shadows on the ceiling. In the after photo, you can see that new lighting in the same warehouse seems slightly brighter. The stunning thing about this comparison is that a total of 82 individual fixtures were removed from the design to decrease energy usage while still delivering a high quality light to allow tasks to be safely completed in this space! Additionally, a new controls system was installed to better manage how and when these lights are in use.

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • 6L T8 32 watt and 25 watt fixture configurations were retired & recycled
  • 82 unnecessary fixtures removed from use!
  • New LED lighting design improves efficiency and light quality
  • Decreased kWh 79% overall - incredible!!
  • Project rebate $6,500
  • Annual savings over $4,758
  • New LED fixtures with programmable sensors to reduce burn hours
  • New fixtures have High Bay or Aisle optics for best light distribution
  • Estimated savings of $1,300 in annual maintenance expenses, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty!
  • New fixtures contain no mercury
  • New system integrates a control system with motion sensors! See the video.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS: Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 30

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 5.9
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 3,358.1
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation 0.3 
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 10.44

Lighting Redesign Before and After Photos

In this second set of before and after photos, we see a similar result. The change is not too drastic, but we see light filling the room a little more and the ceiling is brighter in the After photo. Warehouse lighting varies from facility to facility, so you shouldn't sign on for any cookie-cutter project; look for solutions that fit the work you do. To achieve the goals set forward by this organization, TRC completed an investment grade audit prior to the project. Thanks for reading this lighting retrofit case study and redesign summary. To find more information about Investment Grade Audits, you can read our blog post on that, or download the ebook!

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

Case Study: Exterior LED Lighting

Many commonly overlooked energy-efficiency opportunities are outside your facility. Well designed lighting will create inviting spaces around the exterior of your business, such as statues, monuments, green spaces, or other landscaping highlights that are lit during non-daylight hours. By completing these projects, you can address an area that is essentially running half of every day. This can be a good place to start saving energy and money with relative ease. 

In this exterior LED lighting project, the client was looking for energy efficiency and an aesthetic improvement. In this side by side, you can see the old fixture on the left. It has a large housing and a sizable footprint. Each of the eight fixtures contains two lamps and uses 420 watts. On the right, you can see the new LED fixture. It is more compact, offering a lower profile that is less noticeable during daylight hours and uses only 78 watts per fixture.

 BEFORE-AND-AFTER-OUTDOOR-LIGHTING

This post-install photo shows the monument lit at night with the new LED fixtures and a nice white light that is directed onto the sculpture. With LED optics, a space can be designed to put light in areas only where it is needed. This is important to nighttime avoid light pollution. In other nighttime exterior lighting applications this practice of directing light can be applied to lighting walkways or parking lots without letting light spill over into areas where light is not needed, known as light trespass.

outdoor-monument-lighting-blog

 

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Inefficient Metal Halide fixtures retired & recycled
  • Improved light quality
  • Decreased kWh 92% overall
  • Annual savings over $1100
  • Cut maintenance costs, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty!
  • New fixtures contain no mercury

EQUIPMENT FACTS

  • Sustainable, Energy Saving LED
  • 100,000-hour LED lifespan based on IES LM-80 results
    and TM-21 calculations
  • Cold weather starting to -40

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS
Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 8.3

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 1.6
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 926.4
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation 0.08 
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 2.88

Read more about night time light pollution and how good lighting design can help avoid it. If you're thinking about a lighting project or energy-efficiency upgrades, check out our white paper about the questions you should ask a lighting contractor. 

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

Function Over Finance: Lighting Project Priorities Are Shifting

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The Retrofit Companies has been in the lighting industry for more than 20 years, and we have witnessed many changes in technology, trends, and the goals our clients wish to achieve through their lighting projects. The most recent trend has been a shift away from the idea that clients buy lighting projects based only on energy savings needed to achieve financial savings. Payback and return on investment have become less important in modern lighting upgrade projects, while building sustainable, controllable, maintenance-saving lighting systems have become factors which weigh just as heavily in the decision making process as finances. 

Technological advances in lighting is a primary reason for this shift. The malleable nature of LED technology and the ease with which controllability can be achieved now that prices for both of these technologies are attainable throughout the market has made the largest impact. Lighting designers and clients can now affordably meet their goals of building sustainable, controllable, maintenance-saving lighting systems.

In this project case study a smaller business with a large industrial/manufacturing space suffered from inefficient technology and almost no controllability. The largest area of this space was lit with T12 and metal halide and had no control function aside from a single breaker switch – all on or all off.

Before-Retrofit-T12-Lamps

With their retrofit project, this facility upgraded technologies to T8 and LED, and added sensors for additional control. They were able to meet their maintenance, sustainability, and controlability goals successfully.

after-retrofit-led-t8-lamps

In this case, the simple payback is over 8 years, but the monthly energy savings is an anticipated $200+ for this small business and they are able to light only areas that are being used. This savings does not include maintenance savings for the inevitable expense of repairing an aging system and purchasing the discontinued T12 products required to keep it in working order if they had not completed this lighting upgrade.

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Inefficient T12 fixtures retired & recycled
  • 40 unnecessary fixtures removed from use!
  • New lighting layout for maximum efficiency
  • Decreased kWh 69% overall
  • Project rebate $2,213
  • Annual savings over $2829 / nearly $235 a month!
  • New system offers sensors and upgraded controls
  • Cut maintenance costs, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty!
  • New fixtures contain no mercury

EQUIPMENT FACTS

  • Sustainable, Energy Saving LED
  • Rated 50K hours, L70
  • Dimming
  • Even Light Distribution, >80CRI 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS
Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 27.3

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 5.3
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 3,057.4
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation 0.27 
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 9.5


With this example, we can see a how this approach to building lighting projects that save more than money-via-energy-savings is an evolution in our industry and is an approach that can be applied to lighting projects in most industries. However, the environmental and financial savings are still significant, as evidenced in the project summary above. We advise anyone considering a lighting project or upgrade to look beyond the financial savings potential and also consider other intangible savings opportunities that arise when smart design is implemented. Click below for more case studies on our blog.

 Read more lighting case studies

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?

Case Study: Hallway Lighting Retrofit

led hallway retrofit case study

Not every lighting retrofit project we do takes on an entire facility all at once. Sometimes, clients decide to address major areas of concern first, or because their budgets necessitate it, they simply do several smaller projects over time. Whether the project is exterior parking lot lights, a gymnasium, or simply common areas like hallways, every reduction in usage can help. This case study shows how one school converted T8 fixtures to a slimmer, lower maintenance cost LED fixture to achieve better aesthetics, more energy savings, and reduced maintenance.

Deciding to take control of their maintenance costs by upgrading their hallways was a pretty simple decision for this school. An area with aging fixtures and astronomical replacement costs was a great target to start saving. The major problem? Fixture lenses were brittle, easily broken, and no longer manufactured meaning they cost a ton to replace.

Projects like this prove you don’t have to bite off more than you can chew by retrofitting your entire facility at once. Selecting high-traffic corridors with high maintenance costs or long burn hours can make a significant savings impact. Take a look how this institution is using LED updates to control costs, mitigate maintenance expenses, AND save energy! Their new fixtures are even network ready if the building moves toward a facility-wide control system.

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Inefficient T8 fixtures retired & recycled
  • 114 unnecessary fixtures removed from use!
  • New lighting layout for maximum efficiency
  • Decreased kW& kWh by 60% overall
  • Project rebate over $1700
  • Annual savings over $1100 / nearly $100 a month!
  • New system connects to building controls
  • Cut maintenace costs, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty!
  • New fixtures contain no hazardous materials

EQUIPMENT FACTS

  • Sustainable, Energy Saving LED
  • 2 inch fixture profile
  • Rated 100K hours, L70
  • Dimming and Network ready
  • Even Light Distribution, >80CRI

 

low profile led fixture 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS
Total greenhouse gas reduction 9.1 Metric Tons equivalent to:

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 1.9
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 1020.7
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation 0.07
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 3.25
Are there any areas in your facility that could benefit from a lighting upgrade? Get our 7 point checklist and find out now!
Get your 7 point check list today!

How are we doing? Here's what our customer said...

This is the actual form our customers use to tell us how we're doing:

Customer satisfaction

We have a custom here at TRC, where after every job we complete we ask our customers to rate our service.

  • We ask if the job met their expectations
  • We ask how our crews did
  • We ask if our sales people were professional
  • And we ask if they would recommend TRC to their associates

And here's where we really humble brag - would you believe that our average customer review is greater than 90% satisfaction? It is. 

We share with you case studies of our work, before and after shots and we even have an entire webpage dedicated to the letters customers have sent in response to TRC's work.

All of this not just to brag about it on our blog, but to help illustrate the point that TRC has been here for a long time, our work is consistent, and our customers are happy. We do it to show you that we listen and we want to hear from you.

So, if you have something to say to us or questions for us about energy efficiency, hazardous waste recycling, lighting products, or anything you think pertains to TRC - just ask. We're listening.

Here are a few places you can find us online as TheRetrofitCo:

Google+     Facebook      Twitter

And as always, you can just give us a call if you want. The number is toll free: 800-795-1230.

Top 5 Retrofit Companies Blog Posts You Loved The Most

Believe it or not, 2013 has reached the halfway mark. In that time, we've published a number of blog posts about industry topics like LED Lighting, How to Set Up Community Recycling Collections, Energy Saving Tips and more. But today, we're sharing the Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2013 (so far). If you haven't seen them, yet, take a quick look now!

#5 LED Lighting History & Facts: An Abbreviated Wiki

Chances are you aren’t living in the dark, so you’ve seen and read all about LED lighting technology, how quickly it is changing the face of lighting, and you have likely noticed how expensive this solid state lighting can be. We wanted to share a short blog entry about the history of Light Emitting Diodes and some of the more pertinent technology facts that were consolidated from Wiki sources. We aren’t physicists, but we still think lighting can be interesting." (read more)

#4 Warehouse Retrofit Case Study: Why more lights aren't always better

"In one of our client case studies of factory space, energy-efficient T5 high bay fixtures were added alongside inefficient metal halides to try and remedy poor light levels. An unknowing lighting contractor was just compounding the problem...(read more)"

#3 True Cost of Lighting, Energy Saving Tips & Why MOA is full of bugs!

A simple post with 8 links you loved in May 2013. Including topics like Earth Day, What Makes LED Lighting Awesome, Why goats were at O'Hare Airport and your favorite link: Why Mall of America is Full of Ladybugs!

#2 Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries

"Recycling batteries is not as easy as placing old newspapers on a curb. Batteries contain toxic materials which can be harmful if exposed. As several unfortunate incidents have proven, even used batteries considered “dead” can be the source of fires when contacted by conductive materials. Proper, responsible disposal or recycling is a delicate matter whenever there is a potential threat to the environment or the safety of others. Like most potentially harmful wastes, (read more)"

#1 When Are Your Fluorescent Lights Being Discontinued?

"While the discontinued products may no longer be manufactured, they can still be sold until existing supplies are gone. In the meantime, consumers are likely to pay a premium for the lamps themselves, but also more in utility costs because these technologies use more energy. If you are using these lamps, (read more)"

 

What topics or posts have been your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

Parking Ramp Lighting Retrofit Case Study

parking garage lighting ret

You can see this dramatic before and after, side by side while this lighting retrofit project is taking place. This client qualified for more than $23,000 in utility rebate incentive when they upgraded. 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!

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 2 Lamp Vapor Tight Fluorescent High Lumen Fixtures that consume only 74 watts each, this facility is taking advantage of major energy savings. At the end of this project the client was saving 114 watts per fixture, reducing energy usage by over 50%!

Cost Savings: Does is really add up?

Before completing this 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 nearly $20,000 in annual lighting cost savings. 

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 380,740.7 pounds of CO2 for this energy efficiency project. This is equivalent to keeping 37.4 cars off the road for a year, 16,699 gallons of gasoline saved, or 58 tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled!

 

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

get a smart start to your lighting project

Warehouse Retrofit Case Study: Why more lights aren't always better


Your facility might currently be lit with energy-hogging metal halide lamps that can take minutes to come to full brightness, or orange-tinted high pressure sodium lamps that make everything under them look gray because of poor color rendering. If these lighting situations sound familiar, your industrial or manufacturing facility may be ready to consider an energy-efficient lighting upgrade.


In today's business climate, consumers require their products and materials faster than ever. Factories and manufacturers must meet this demand in all industries while keeping employees safe and continuing to provide quality products. How then, can a factory or a manufacturer remain competitive, contain costs and retain productive employees, all while being lean and green?

Efficiency is key in this scenario. If you're considering an efficiency project, often times a lighting retrofit can yield immediate and calculable results, while improving the bottom line.

In one of our client case studies of factory space, energy-efficient T5 high bay fixtures were added alongside inefficient metal halides to try and remedy poor light levels. An unknowing lighting contractor was just compounding the problem by adding more fixtures, instead of giving the client an organized, efficient system to address the lighting requirements of a manufacturing facility. When the factory warehouse decided to remedy their lighting issues and had a full energy study performed, they found an opportunity for savings that astonished them.

Reasons this industrial facility retrofitted their lighting system:

  • to improve energy efficiency

  • to standardize lamp inventory

  • ease of maintenance

  • reduced maintenance expenses

  • to improve light quality

By replacing their Metal Halide fixtures with energy-efficient T5 fixtures, this warehouse retrofit is saving the client over $12,000 annually in lighting costs, and reducing Kwh usage by 61%. Immediately after project completion, these savings began. By simply reducing the amount of energy used, they were able to reduce utility costs.

Given the nature of their retrofit, because they were replacing an outmoded technology with very energy-efficient lighting technology, this facility qualified for a rebate from their utility company to help offset some of the retrofit project cost. With their dramatic savings, this project payback was calculated to be under one year.

Warehouse Lighting Retrofit Before and After

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. Facilities managers no longer have to stock a dozen or more different types of lamps or light bulbs and several ballasts for the event of burnout or failure. Also, it is probably clear to you that after a retrofit, all of the bulbs and ballasts are new, so there is an obvious initial reduction in costs to maintain that new lighting system. However, since all of the lamps were replaced at one time and you have a good idea of their usage, a group relamp date can be easily calculated. Changing all the lamps at once at the end of their useful life, for example three years after a lighting retrofit, can again dramatically decrease the regular maintenance costs associated with reactionary spot relamping, or replacing lamps as they fail.

Finally, one of the most dramatic and noticeable changes for this manufacturing facility was the improvement in light quality. After the lighting was completed employees in this building said, “We can actually see now!” Studies have shown that light quality correlates to workplace productivity, but in this case, it certainly also impacted safety. The new lighting system gave factory employees enough light to do a good job safely. •

 Read more lighting case studies

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