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Enlightening Savings

April 20, 2010

New Highbay Lights

It’s not sexy, but today’s topic of conversation is lights.  With over 142,000 square feet of laboratory space EWI has a lot of lights.  As part of the EWI Energy Center, we have been looking at ways to reduce our energy usage through out the operation.   Last year we had a energy audit performed to look at ways to make EWI more energy efficient.  It turns out that the lowest hanging fruit included HVAC upgrades and lights.

Last year the laboratory spaces were primarily illuminated by metal-halide lights akin to those at your high school gym.  We looked at the price to retrofit all of the metal-halides with energy efficient T5 fluorescent fixtures and the ROI was just over 2 years.  This corresponds to a savings of $6,000 a year once the lights are paid off.  Even better, our local electrical supplier, AEP, was offering energy efficient grants to help commercial buildings reduce energy usage.  The grants paid for half the cost leading us to a ROI of just 1 year.  Even with the tough economic times, that was an easy sell to our CFO.

The lights have been installed, and we have found further benefits.  First, we are able to hang the lights lower giving a better distribution of light in the labs.  Second, the metal-halides required a long start up time meaning you couldn’t shut them off during the day.  With the fluorescent we have been able to divide the high bay into regions and put a switch for each segment.  When the area is not in use, we can turn the lights off and realize further savings.  We are now looking at high efficiency LED lights for the office area, but we’ll save that topic for another day.