Red Gold Goes with Green Lighting

March 1, 2008
When it was time to upgrade its light ing system, Red Gold wanted it all. The tomato processing company based in Orestes, Ind., wanted to cut its electricity

When it was time to upgrade its light ing system, Red Gold wanted it all.

The tomato processing company based in Orestes, Ind., wanted to cut its electricity bill and save energy. However, Red Gold had no intention of sacrificing lighting quality. On the contrary, the company wanted better, more even lighting throughout its 980,000-square foot distribution center in Alexandria, Ind. Before May 2007, the DC had a mix of both metal-halide and high-pressure sodium lights. Uneven lighting throughout the DC was causing eye strain, which became increasingly uncomfortable for employees. In addition, order pickers needed evenly distributed lighting to read labels accurately.

“We had 15 footcandles [a measurement of lighting intensity] right under the lights, but six in other areas,” says Dallas Conrad, project engineer at Red Gold. The cause was lumen depreciation, which is common in metal-halide fixtures. “After metal halides burn for about a month, there is a significant decrease in the amount of light output,” he explains. “It continues to trend down until it reaches 30% of its original light output.”

Improving lighting quality was only one of Red Gold’s objectives when it started to seek suppliers for a lighting system retrofit. Lighting accounts for 25% to 40% of a building’s total energy consumption and up to one-half of its monthly electric bill, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and Red Gold wanted to bring that cost down. At the same time, it wanted to save energy to support a corporate-wide sustainability initiative. It was a tall order.

After evaluating several lighting suppl i e r s , the company chos e Westinghouse Lighting Solutions (Philadelphia).

Saving Green, Going Green With the help of lighting contractor 4TC Corp. (Portland, Ind.), Red Gold replaced the 485-watt, metal-halide lights with 197-watt, four-tube, high-bay T5 high-output fluorescents and the high-pressure sodium lights with 235-watt, six-tube, high-bay T5 high-output fluorescents.

The 680 new lights in the Alexandria facility use approximately 50% less wattage than the old lights, and that means less energy use. Overall, “we’re using one-third less energy in the facility,” Conrad says. As a bonus, Red Gold was able to take a sizeable tax deduction permitted by EPAct 2005. (See sidebar, “Uncle Sam Wants You…to Save Energy,” on page 54.)

Jay Goodman , founder and managing director of Westinghouse Lighting Solutions, says the energy savings that Red Gold experienced by replacing metal halides with fluorescents are not unusual. “A typical, 100,000-square foot warehouse in N.J. with 400-watt, metal halide lights that changes to 234- watt, high-intensity fluorescent fixtures will get a 50% energy savings,” he says.

Along with reducing energy bills, the new lighting helped Red Gold meet its corporate sustainability goals. “We’re reducing our energy consumption across the board,” says Conrad. “The lighting project was one piece of a larger program.” Red Gold was recently awarded the Green Tint award from the Indiana Governor’s Council for its environmental efforts. Companies earn the Green Tint award by cutting energy use throughout the building envelope.

Increasing lighting efficiency is good for both the bottom line and the planet. “A reduction in energy usage translates into a reduction in energy generation, which means a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions,” says Goodman. “The N.J. project, for example, would be equivalent to planting 95 acres of trees and taking 77 cars off the road.”

“Reducing energy waste has a positive impact on the environment,” adds Russ Monchein, owner of Vanguard Industrial Products (Cleveland), a supplier of commercial and industrial products designed to save money and create safer environments. Vanguard Industrial Products is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. “One kilowatt of electricity saved reduces emissions of carbon dioxide by 1.6 pounds, sulfur dioxide by 5.2 grams and nitrogen oxides by 2.8 grams,” says Monchein.

Westinghouse Lighting Solutions also enhanced Red Gold’s green status by supplying environmentally friendly Philips Alto fluorescent bulbs. The low mercury content in the Altobulbs allows them to comply with the EPA’s Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure. That means the EPA does not classify them as hazardous waste, so they can be disposed of through conventional means.

Best of Both Worlds
Because fluorescent lights result in less lumen depreciation than metal halides, Red Gold’s lighting retrofit achieved energy savings without a loss in lighting output. In fact, it improved. Red Gold was able to achieve its goal of a minimum of 10 footcandles in every square foot of the facility, and the bright light will last. “Fluorescents can burn for five years and still maintain 95% of their original light output,” says Conrad.

“Improved light quality and quantity allows employees to see better,” says Monchein. “This typically results in increased productivity, reduced eye strain, fewer accidents and mistakes and improved employee morale.”

“We have had rave reviews from employees,” Conrad reports. “They are very happy with how well the facility is lit. The distribution of light is even now, and it’s easier on their eyes.”

Uncle Sam Wants You… to Save Energy
On Aug. 8, 2005, President Bush signed The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), officially allowing owners of new or existing commercial buildings to deduct the entire cost of a lighting upgrade in the year the equipment is placed in service.

A tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot is available to building managers who construct or retrofit their facilities to save at least 50% of the heating, cooling, ventilation, water heating and interior lighting energy cost of a building that meets the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard 90.1-2001.

Partial deductions of $0.60 per square foot can be taken for improvements to any one system, including the building envelope, lighting or heating and cooling system. The partial tax deduction applies to one upgrade that surpasses ASHRAE standard 90.1-2001.

An interim, system-specific goal for lighting is written directly into the legislation and is valid until the Secretary of the Treasury issues a final rule. Under the interim rules for lighting projects, building owners or tenants who install a new lighting system that reduces the lighting power density (LPD, watts per square foot) 25% to 40% below the minimum requirements of ASHRAE standard 90.1-2001, are eligible for a deduction of $0.30 to $0.60 per square foot.

For warehouses, the LPD must be 50% lower than the minimum requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1–2001 to be eligible for a deduction of $0.60 per square foot.

The tax deduction applies to upgrades placed in service between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2008.

Source: Philips Electronics North America Corp., New York

Lower Wattage, Better Light Seals the Deal
An antiquated lighting system, high energy bills and insufficient light levels led North American Seal and Supply, a fabricator and distributor of rubber and plastic products in Cleveland, to contact Matt Minard, end user lighting specialist at Hawkins Sales (Cleveland), an electrical manufacturers’ representative.

North American Seal’s facility is split into two areas—8,280 square feet is dedicated to production and 11,000 square feet to warehousing. Minard recommended 16 new, six-lamp T8 fluorescents from TCP Inc. (Cleveland) to replace the facility’s aging eight-foot fluorescents in the production area. The warehousing space had 400-watt, metal-halide fixtures. Minard replaced them with six-lamp T8 fluorescents.

North American Seal and Supply noticed immediate energy savings after upgrading its lighting system. It achieved a 52% energy savings in the production area alone. And, wattage use significantly decreased in the warehousing section. “While the metal-halide fixtures consumed about 460 watts each, the TCP fixtures only consumed 234 watts,” says Minard.

“In a warehouse or manufacturing facility operating five days a week, 12 hours a day, a typical metalhalide fixture costs about $145 per year to operate,” says Don Gaither, linear operations manager at TCP Inc. “The equivalent fluorescent costs $68 a year. That’s a savings of $77 per year, per light.”

Despite the lower wattage, light levels increased. “They were at 10 footcandles, and we bumped them up to 25 to 26 footcandles,” Minard says.

“Fluorescents use less energy than both metal halide and high-pressure sodium lights and also have better color rendering,” adds Gaither. Color rendering, the effect of a light source on the appearance of objects, was especially important for North American Seal and Supply’s production and assembly operations.

“Lighting was important for accuracy and employee comfort,” says Minard.

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