Ernst & Young expects new LED lights to yield annual savings of $1 million. SL Green will replace 8,000 bulbs at four properties by the end of the month, hoping to reap similar gains.
In an effort to lighten its energy bill, accounting giant Ernst & Young announced Tuesday that it had installed LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs throughout its Times Square office building. The firm calculates that as a result of the switch-over at 5 Times Square, its energy consumption will nearly be halved, for an annual savings of a cool $1 million. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many others have long beaten the drum for greater energy conservation in commercial buildings, and many new towers have won Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification for their green-ness in recent years, but making similar strides in existing buildings has proven harder. Famously, the Empire State Building has spent millions on new windows,
lighting and more to lower energy use. Ernst & Young, in a far younger building, now joins that group. Meanwhile, the city’s largest commercial landlord, SL Green Realty Corp., is also on board. It expects to finish retrofitting four of its Manhattan buildings with 8,000 LED lamps by the end of the month, having completed a similar effort in its suburban office properties back in the spring. In retrofit projects like these, installation can proceed quickly without the tenants moving out, said Zia Eftekhar, chairman of Philips Lighting North America. which was installed around the structural footprint for the previous florescent and halogen lighting. The effort’s quick payback also helps. Mr. Eftekhar placed the annual rate of return at 50%. And then there are the government incentives to be considered. Of the $2.5 million total that SL Green spent on its two LED installations, it expects to receive $200,000 back from state and utility incentive programs. That cash comes on top of projected savings of $750,000 a year, which are shared by tenant and landlord, according to Jason Black, director of sustainability at SL Green. Savings extend beyond paying smaller bills to the utility companies. Unlike even efficient compact florescent bulbs, LED lights rarely need replacing, which cuts maintenance costs on both labor and materials.
Furniture company Rooms To Go has converted 115 of its retail stores to LED lighting, reducing energy use an average of 35-45 percent in each store.
The switch to energy efficient 16-18 W LED track lamps from the 60 W halogen track lamps previously in use by the retailer started in 2010. Rooms To Go expects a project investment payback in less than 12 months.
Rooms To Go has also further reduced energy consumption by selecting a wider optical beam-spread for the LED lamps, using a 25-degree angle instead of the 12-degree angle employed for the halogen lamps. This change has allowed the retailer to decrease the number of lamps per store by as much as 10 percent, resulting in further energy savings. And since the LED lamps produce less heat, a decrease in air-conditioning demand has contributed to increased energy efficiency as well.
Rooms To Go worked with, an energy management company, to take advantage of more than 16 utility rebate incentive programs to help cover the initial cost of switching to LED lighting. Using Energy Star Certified LED lamps helped in the rebate application process, the company says.
More than 45 Rooms To Go store locations were awarded rebate program incentives for deploying energy efficient LED lighting. Participating utility partners include: Progress Energy, city of Austin, Duke Energy, Electric Power Board of Chattanooga – TVA, Middle Tennessee Electric Corp – TVA, Nashville Electric Service – TVA, Knoxville Utilities – TVA, Gulf Power, Georgia Power, CenterPoint Energy, AEP Texas, Lakeland Electric & Water, Pineville Electric, South Carolina Electric & Gas, and Gainesville Regional Utilities, CPS Energy.
According to Yolanda Slade, project manager for the CenterPoint Energy Commercial Standard Offer Program, which provided Rooms To Go with its single largest utility rebate, the conversion to LED lighting will also benefit utility companies. Lower energy consumption at the site means less stress on the electricity grid, which helps utility avoid building new power plants.
In February, Portland General Electric will begin switching 25,000 of its high-power sodium lights to more energy-efficient LEDs.
Five counties and 47 cities are slated to get the lights in 2013 and 2014, with Clackamas County, including Portland, getting them first, according to Oregon Live. Following its regular light-replacement schedule, PGE will then install LED lights in these cities: Oregon City; West Linn; Lake Oswego; Milwaukie; Wilsonville; Molalla; Gladstone; Sandy; Estacada; Barlow; Johnson City; and in unincorporated areas.
PGE is able to afford the retrofit with the help of federal grants. In December, the Oregon Public Utility Commission approved the replacement of the lights, which comes at no cost to the municipalities. The new bulbs are expected to use about 60 percent less energy.
Other cities switching to LED streetlighting include San Francisco, the Borough of Tarentum in Western Pennsylvania, and San Antonio, Texas.
There are differing views as to whether the whiter light of LEDs is an improvement. Some claim the LEDs cause more light pollution and the white light is harder to block with curtains and shutters. But others claim the LEDs make it easier to see detail such as road signs, as well as stars in the night sky.