LED Costs and Benefits
Lighting from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is greener than fluorescent lighting, in part because it doesn’t contain any carcinogens or nasty chemicals. The lights also last longer than fluorescents and provide a better, brighter light. The LEDs outperform the fluorescents and use significantly less energy.
A professional survey was conducted to measure Stafford Storage’s energy consumption and determine how much it could be improved. The facility’s owners wanted to make sure there was a reasonable business case for the upgrades before purchasing. It was estimated the facility consumed 51,942 kilowatts per year. At a rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour, the annual electric bill was $5,194. By upgrading to LEDs, Stafford Storage could reduce its energy consumption to approximately 26,411 kilowatt hours, resulting in 49 percent lower energy costs.
In addition, the maintenance, labor and capital costs associated with changing out the fluorescent lights wa more than $3,000 annually. Roughly 37 percent of the company’s total lighting costs was allocated toward buying new tubes and paying someone to install them. Stafford Storage chose LEDS that have a life of 80,000 hours. In the 18-hour-per-day facility, that equates to more than 12 years of life per tube. An ongoing benefit to extending the life of the lighting is the costs created by purchasing and changing out the old fluorescent tubes is nearly zeroed out.
On a month-to-month comparison of energy bills from 2010 to 2011, Stafford Storage realized a 35 percent savings. Presented with nine financing options by its service provider, Green Garage Lighting, Stafford Storage had ample choices to end up cash-flow positive on a monthly basis.
Helping the Planet
While the facility owners were initially interested in saving money, in the end, they were also pleased they could do their part in saving the environment. LEDs use so much less energy than conventional lighting that there’s a meaningful reduction in the greenhouse gases produced by energy plants. The retrofitting completed at this facility alone will reduce 21,738 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. In addition, the project will reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 15 and 16 pounds, respectively.
Although these numbers are nice, what do they mean? Changing the lights to LEDs in a 50,000-square-foot facility is equal to planting an additional 95 trees. It’s also equal to taking 52 cars off the road or purchasing 10 carbon credits. These are numbers that don’t get applied to the bottom line of operating a self-storage facility, but they do matter to a much larger bottom line.
While Stafford Storage has not yet marketed itself as a green facility, the owners’ open-minded approach to environmentally friendly solutions also leaves the door open for additional sustainability measures.
“We are committed to making sustainability investments that make sense for us, the customer and the planet,” Boandies said. “If that means there’s a place for another solution, perhaps solar on the roof or wind power on the property, we would be interested if the return on investment makes sense. It has to fit our budget and needs. We were able to complete this retrofit without increasing our rates, which is a huge bonus for everyone.”
Bryan Hurlburt is a business developer for Green Garage Lighting, a provider of environmentally friendly LED lighting. The company works with high-energy-use clients to find the best green solutions to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. For more information, visit www.greengaragelighting.com .