As 2015 comes to a close and the New Year begins, organizations begin assessing budgets to search for ways to control or cut costs across the business. Energy usage is a tremendous expense in many industries, where electricity and utilities account for big dollars spent every year, so a move to more energy efficient technologies could provide tremendous financial benefits.
One such technology to consider is LED lighting, with some commercially available offerings able to help business cut energy costs by up to 60 percent, while also producing a healthier lighting experience. Most non-LED lighting solutions currently installed can be easily converted to LED technologies, reducing energy consumption, carbon emissions, maintenance costs and other indirect costs associated with the consumption and generation of electricity, while improving light output with negligible depreciation over time.
There are a number of health and productivity related benefits reportedly associated, as well. But the biggest payback comes from efficiency. LED technologies are exceeding 70,000 hours compared to the 15,000 hours of fluorescent lighting.
While organizations in any industry can benefit from LED lighting technologies, there are several untapped market opportunities where LED could provide significant savings for organizations and revenue for the companies that complete the installations.
Lighting represents 31 percent of $7 billion annual energy and utility expenses for higher education within the US. LED lighting products offer a critical opportunity for the 4,700 U.S. colleges and universities to save $1.2 billion annually by improving lighting efficiency more than 60 percent, while providing superior photometrics, eliminating UV radiation and visible lamp light depreciation to increase motivation, positively impact mental well-being and improve concentration and productivity for students.
The benefits of LED lighting extend beyond the higher education market. According to the US Department of Energy, lighting is a significant consumer of energy use in K-12 schools as well, second only to space heating. According to a US Environmental Protection Agency report, school buildings are often able to achieve upwards of 40 percent energy cost savings through lighting installations and retrofits. These savings can be further enhanced by introducing LED lighting controls to address occupancy, dimming and daylight harvesting. It is estimated that lighting control systems can improve lighting energy savings by an additional 20 percent. With approximately 98,000 public schools nationwide, the market for energy efficient lighting solutions is significant, as is the opportunity for cost savings for the schools and districts installing the technology.
There are approximately 40,000 parking garages costing owners more than $6 billion annually on lighting energy costs across the US. One of the biggest reasons for the costs is the price tag associated with current high energy systems and the need to keep them running for 24/7 as a safety feature. While cost savings alone may be a prevailing reason to install LED lighting, the increased light output provides an additional benefit of improved safety and security for both enclosed open area parking facilities.
Grocery and Food Preparation
Lighting makes up 18 percent of US supermarket and grocery store energy use nationwide. With approximately 40,000 stores nationwide, totaling 1.6 billion square feet, LED lighting could have a significant impact, reducing the approximately $4 per square foot spent on energy use to save grocers $691 million annually. Consider this example: A typical LED installation within a grocery store could save $28,500 annually. Those savings are the equivalent of an additional $950,000 in revenue at a 3 percent profit margin.
There is additional opportunity in this sector for LED technologies with food safety certifications — from NSF International for example — which allows for installation within areas where food is processed, prepared and handled. Key certifications like these ensure that the technology meets the highest standards in food safety, passing stringent testing from both the FDA and USDA.
LED technologies have become a major factor within the lighting and energy efficiency marketplace because of the financial and environmental benefits they produce. Most organizations wait until something is broken to fix or replace it, but LED technologies should be installed as part of an efficiency plan before the need arises. When done so, significant savings, both financially and environmentally, can occur.
Jay Black is the vice president of development and communications for Revolution Lighting Technologies.