Most commercial building owners know that LEDs are one of the simplest ways to reduce energy costs. But many companies don’t realize that these efficient lights also increase worker efficiency. There is a direct link between better illumination and productivity that can improve your bottom line.
Flinchbaugh Engineering, a manufacturing company in York, PA, recently upgraded part of its facility to LED. “Not only was the payback a great investment, but I soon realized after talking to our long-term employees that they were feeling better at the end of the day. They specifically contributed that to the new lighting,” says Justin Sponar, facilities manager. “I had to research this and found there have been similar situations in other companies. We have now made the commitment to upgrade the rest of our facility to LED.”
Studies have shown that LED lighting increases employee productivity:
25% decreased absenteeism (PPL Electric Utilities)
16% increase in claims processed (West Bend Mutual)
Improved product quality worth $25,000 per year (Hyde Tools)
20% improvement in defect rate (Boeing)
*From Green Building and the Bottom Line a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute and U.S. Dept of Energy
Four ways LEDs can create a more productive and energetic work environment:
1) Increased Alertness and Visual Efficiency
Soft, warm mood lighting is great for your living room but not in the workplace. Dim lighting can trigger drowsiness, which lowers focus, concentration, and motivation. The brighter, cooler light emitted by LEDs can help occupants stay alert because it is similar to natural daylight.
Additionally, the researchers found that “In terms of psychological and cognitive performance, volunteers showed increased fatigue ratings with fluorescent relative to LED, and this effect was associated with slower response times on tasks measuring spatial and verbal memory.”
2) Healthy Happy Eyes
Do employees keep taking time off for headaches? Are students squinting to see the board or read an exam? Both dim and harsh lighting can result in eye strain and headaches because the eye muscles are overworked. Overhead light can also cause unwanted glare that bounces off of computer screens, walls, and furniture surfaces. When spaces are evenly illuminated with LEDs, occupants are less likely to work their vision so hard.
3) Safer Workplace
There are many factors that can lead to a workplace incident but lighting doesn’t usually come to mind. Employees depend on quality lighting to recognize and avoid hazards. Shadows that impair depth perception or lighting that distorts color rendering makes it harder to spot a potential accident or danger. Well-designed LED lighting not only brightens the entire workspace, but also eliminates any shadowy areas, making for a much safer environment for employees.
4) Improved Quality Control
Particularly in industrial settings, quality control is a major production concern. With ample bright light, inspectors can more easily detect deficiencies in a product line or even in assembly equipment. The ability to quickly recognize defects ensures corrections can be made before a product reaches customers.
Does your company have an overall energy plan, and if so, how well are you following it? Your company spends thousands, if not millions, of dollars on electricity costs every year. But to view this as an expense that can only be managed is a missed opportunity. These easy energy tips for commercial buildings will help you make strategic choices about how much energy your property consumes.
1) Identify Your Energy Hogs
A utility bill only tells you what your total energy consumption is, not which area uses the most kilowatts. When you know which system is your largest energy hog, you can implement retrofits or operational changes that lower costs. Depending on your building type, there are several methods that will help you calculate which equipment requires the most electricity.
If you run a warehouse facility, this will likely be your lighting system. A simple audit of the existing light fixtures to determine the energy consumption values will give you great insights. A lighting audit will survey all existing fixture/lamp types, existing kWh usage from the lighting, propose recommended retrofit fixtures/lamps with costs and calculated savings.
Do you manage a large commercial building? If so, the HVAC system is mostly likely the greatest energy consumer, followed by lighting and plug loads. An Energy Star Benchmarking audit/report will provide you with building and portfolio data. This report also compares your facility to similar facilities.
For manufacturing facilities, an ASHRAE audit may be the best analytical method. Data loggers and submeters will dive into even greater energy detail to flag your biggest energy users. Once the largest energy users are identified, an actionable plan can be created.
2) Understand Utility Costs
It is important to understand how much you are paying for the utilities. It’s common for a facilities team to handle energy projects while a CFO or purchasing department will oversee the utility procurement. But there’s more to energy procurement than knowing the current rate and the term length of the contract.
It is critical to understand how the property uses energy when shopping for ideal market conditions. For example: is the load all on-peak, or a combination of on and off peak, do you have the ability to shed load at peak times? You also need to understand how proposed energy efficiency projects will affect the load profile.
3) Look at the Entire Financial Picture
You should also examine the entire financial impact of an energy retrofit. There may be federal and state tax incentives available for energy savings projects as well as local utility rebate programs. There may be sales tax exemptions available on the utility costs that can help offset the costs of energy projects. Be sure to investigate the availability of energy project financing mechanisms if upfront investment costs are a concern.
Switching from inefficient lighting technologies (such as HID or fluorescent) to LED lighting can significantly decrease your business’s energy expenses. In fact, LED retrofits usually result in an energy savings of 40 to 60 percent.
But what if there is too much competition for your cash to support the initial costs of upgrading the lighting?
Fortunately, there’s an alternative: LED equipment financing.
3 Advantages of Financing Your LED Lighting Retrofit
1.$0 Upfront Cost
This breaks down a major barrier to getting the ongoing benefits of LED lighting. With no need to lay out a large investment for equipment, project financing allows you to keep money in your business for other initiatives as you pursue an LED retrofit.
2.Net Cash-flow Positive From Day One
Because LED lighting is so energy efficient, an upgrade will likely generate monthly savings that exceed your monthly loan payment.
3.No Payment Due Until Project Completion
Some financing plans don't require any payments until your project has been completed. Which means you won't pay anything for your LED lighting equipment until you start saving money with your new lighting.
In cooperation with our financing partners, A1 Energy offers the opportunity to finance LED equipment purchases. With these experienced funding sources for lighting and energy efficiency projects, customers get flexible financing options that preserve their working capital and facilitate the implementation of energy projects.
“While companies may decide not to execute projects for a variety of reasons, lack of financing should not be one of them,” explained John Costlow, President, Sustainable Energy Fund.
And the need for financing is expected to escalate. According to DLL Account Executive John Ceschan, “Finance solutions for energy efficiency retrofit projects will be even more important as the desire for energy efficient retrofits continues to rise, in spite of declining utility incentives.”
At A1 Energy, we don’t believe concerns about upfront expenses should deny any organization the opportunity to make their buildings more energy efficient. Contact us today to learn about reducing your energy expenses with a lighting retrofit—and to discuss budget-friendly financing options for your project.
The impact of LED lighting goes beyond aesthetics and sustainability—it is also being used to promote better mental, physical, and behavioral health via its effects on circadian rhythm. It’s a fascinating industry trend that we are following closely at A1 Energy.
What Is Circadian Rhythm—And What Effect Does Light Have On It?
Physically and mentally, we respond to the light-to-dark daily cycle known as circadian rhythm.
Circadian rhythm is that internal biological clock that tells our bodies when to be alert (during the day) and when to sleep (at night, when it’s dark). This natural cycle helps keep us healthy—physically and mentally. When the cycle is interrupted, it can have adverse effects.
As an example, consider SAD (seasonal affective disorder). According to information on the Mental Health America website, SAD (commonly referred to as the “winter blues”) is a subtype of depression that afflicts people around the same time every year—when the seasons change and we have shorter periods of daylight and longer periods of dark within our days.
Unfortunately, our circadian system isn’t compromised only in the fall and winter months. Due to man-made lighting—including the glow of smart phones, e-readers, tablets, and computers—our bodies and minds get mixed signals year-round. Our days and nights blur together, affecting our ability to get the restful sleep so necessary for optimal health. Research has shown that this disruption in the circadian system has links to depression, mood disturbances, obesity, cancer, diabetes, diminished mental and physical performance, decreased productivity, and other issues.
Supporting Circadian Rhythm With Lighting
While man-made lighting can wreak havoc on our circadian system, fortunately, promising efforts exist to use color-tunable lighting to support it instead.
In fact, A1 Energy was recently involved in a project that explored the potential of color-changing LEDs; we assisted in a pilot study of circadian rhythm lighting’s affects on dementia patients. Westminster Village, a community of Presbyterian Senior Living in Allentown, PA, installed lighting at Westminster’s Neighborhood of Hope, where 23 memory care patients reside. The lighting system changes color and intensity depending on the time of day, simulating the natural patterns of sunlight.
In the May 8, 2017 article Getting With The Program In Memory Care by Cheryl Slavinsky on the Senior Living News website, the executive director at Westminster Village and residents’ family members shared that the lighting has enabled residents who were previously unable to sleep through the night to finally get a full night’s rest. Also, the residents seem more calm and optimistic. And in some cases, residents’ medications could be decreased.
Not only did Westminster Village notice a positive change in its residents, its staff members have experienced changes, as well, according to the article. They’ve said that they feel more energetic and less tired after a day’s work.
“A1 Energy was proud to offer this new technology to one of our clients as the first of four national pilot studies,” said Mike Porreca, project manager at A1 Energy.
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel—A Brighter Future
As more color-tunable lighting products enter the market and are applied to support our circadian rhythm, imagine the impact. Workspaces and homes that promote better health, harmony, and productivity.
“We’re excited to be on the leading edge of the exploration into the benefits of color-tunable lighting,” shared Porreca. “As a company, we realize the potential impact this new technology may have on end users in many different settings.”
A Legacy Of Doing Business Honestly And Ethically—And Of Commitment To Community
A family-owned company spanning three generations, Lancaster Toyota has two full-service dealerships in East Petersburg that uphold the highest business standards for employees and customers. Founded by Bob Allen in 1973, the company is now under the leadership of President Rob Allen, Bob’s son, who started his career as a worker in the wash bay when he was 10 years old. The family’s passion for preserving the business’s values and success continues with Rob’s son, Brad Allen. As Sales Manager, Brad aims to further the legacy that his grandfather forged four decades ago.
The company’s dealership locations include 5270 Manheim Pike (Toyota) and 5170 Manheim Pike (Mazda). With a 52,000 square-foot, 32-bay service center and factory-trained and certified technicians, the company can handle everything from routine maintenance to extensive bodywork. In addition, it has a large used car lot at 1103 Enterprise Road that offers a wide selection of quality used vehicles. The company also has a full-service Toyota-certified collision center at 1188 Enterprise Road, which handles repairs on all types of vehicles and that is also certified in Mercedes Benz.
The team at Lancaster Toyota feels fortunate for the opportunity to celebrate a high volume of business and to have long-lasting relationships with its customers. The company has a culture that revolves around supporting the community that has made it a success. Lancaster Toyota sponsors local organizations and initiatives including the Fulton Theatre, Aaron’s Acres, Schreiber Pediatrics, the Lancaster Toyota Amphitheater in East Petersburg, and others.
The Successful Drive To Sustainability
In addition to the company’s commitment to its employees, customers, and the local community, it has also incorporated changes over the past five years that demonstrate not only its good business sense but also its sense of environmental responsibility. Lancaster Toyota, with the help of A1 Energy, has been upgrading its lighting throughout its various facilities to energy-efficient LEDs. “We started our first project back in 2010 with our body shop. We had 400-watt metal halides that were going bad. We decided to go with T5 fixtures, which use less energy and cost less than fixing the metal halides,” explained Ron Price, Maintenance Supervisor.
As a result of those changes, the lighting in the shop improved dramatically, and the company saved more than $700 per month on its electric bill. With a rebate offered by PP&L, Lancaster Toyota was able to recover its costs of converting the body shop lighting in approximately two years.
According to Price, “From there we moved to our used car building and did the same thing with the metal halides there. After that, we swapped out T8s for LED tubes at our Mazda location.”
As with the body shop, the lighting in the used car and Mazda dealership facilities improved and the electricity costs decreased.
“With the PPL rebate, we paid those projects off in 14 months,” said Price. “With the success we had with those projects, we followed suit with installing LEDs when the T8s in our service drive went bad. With the cost savings and rebate, we paid that project off within just one year.”
Last year, Lancaster Toyota also changed its parts department’s T8s to LEDs. The company estimates it will recover its costs for that project within one year. “A1 energy was a big help in seeing our lighting projects through from beginning to end,” shared Price.
We congratulate Lancaster Toyota on its success, and we commend it for choosing lighting that’s not only good for business but also kind to the environment. Is your company looking for sustainability solutions that will save money and treat the planet right? We’re here to help! Contact us today.