Can you recommend the latest energy-efficiency technologies for retail stores and other, similar commercial facilities?
There are a number of new technologies, including building automation and energy management systems — systems that provide the optimal amount of energy when the space is in use and limit energy use when the facility is unoccupied. These systems are becoming more affordable, putting them within financial reach of many small businesses and retail operations.
Lighting products continue to advance as well, with improved fluorescent technology able to meet the higher lighting standards of retail and of commercial spaces with ceiling heights of 20 feet or more. Energy-efficient T5 fixtures initially used for cove lighting have become more popular with retailers because the low profile permits their use in smaller valances and coves. Although the T5/HO (high output) lamp is not more efficient than its cousin, the T8, its higher lumen package helps meet the required vertical illuminance levels for the merchandise, which means less lamps are necessary.
The use of sensors is increasing as well, including occupancy sensors and carbon dioxide sensors that balance fresh-air intake with energy costs. And retail stores that receive outdoor light can add window films that adjust the amount of outside light — and heat — that can enter a building.
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Do you have any information on energy savings for automobile dealerships?
Automobile dealerships are energy-intensive, with facilities consuming about 110 kBTU per square foot (compared to prime office space at 93 kBTU).* While it may not seem like much, over the course of a year, that amount adds up to thousands of dollars in water and energy costs for the typical dealership. Most dealerships have the potential to reduce energy costs by at least 20 percent, while enacting more advanced energy efficiency and energy management approaches will save even more.
The National Automobile Dealers Association represents approximately 20,000 new car and truck dealers holding nearly 43,000 separate franchises. According to ENERGY STAR, if U.S. dealerships cut their energy use by 10 percent, more than $193 million in utility costs and more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide could be saved.
Many dealership showrooms and shop areas contain ceilings 20 feet or higher. The typically installed high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting is inefficient. If you replace these HID fixtures with more efficient metal halide or high-pressure sodium lighting systems, you'll save on energy costs. For even greater efficiency, install T8 or T5 fluorescent lights that are designed specifically for high ceiling applications.
Pneumatic equipment is important and used often in automobile service areas. It's also incredibly energy intensive and presents an opportunity for energy savings. ENERGY STAR suggests that when choosing compressors or replacing older motors, you select NEMA — National Electrical Manufacturers Association — high-efficiency technology. If your compressors aren't equipped with timers, then install timers on compressors so that they're turned off when your facility is. As with any type of equipment, operate it according to the manufacturer's instructions and keep it well maintained.
For those facilities that operate paint booths, ENERGY STAR recommends you consider retrofitting them with energy-efficient features like NEMA premium motors and variable speed drives and controls.
How can I improve my lighting system without spending a lot of money?
Lighting control is perhaps the most important element of any lighting energy conservation program. Its benefits are concrete, measurable and, in most cases, quickly realized. Many lighting control projects have payback periods of less than one year. On/off controls are most suitable for applications where lighting is not needed for extended periods of time, but where manual switches might be left on. The choice between occupancy sensors and time-based controls should be based on the nature of the operation being performed in the affected space. For example, hallway lighting in office buildings is generally needed only during scheduled hours and therefore well-suited for time-based controls. If lighting is needed on a more random basis, such as private offices, occupancy sensors provide a better level of control and greater energy savings. Daylighting control systems examine the total amount of light available in a given space and switch off one or more banks of lights whenever enough sunlight is available. Daylighting control systems are particularly well suited for use in facilities with large areas of exterior glass.
How can you reduce lighting costs if you don't have enough capital for a retrofit?
Lighting is one of the easiest areas to reduce costs without spending a lot of money. One reason is because lighting is one of the largest energy consumers in buildings. According to E Source, lighting consumes nearly 35 percent of the electricity used in commercial buildings in the U.S. And it affects other building systems because lighting produces waste heat and makes your facility's HVAC system work harder. While you may not be able to reap the rewards of a retrofit, there are some quick fixes that produce fast, concrete, measurable benefits. Several lighting control projects have payback periods of less than one year. This is good news for any organization operating on a tight budget.
Here are a few energy saving options:
- Turn off lights when not in use. It's easy to say, but a lot of people don't do it.
- Depending on the use of the space and if you have some money in your budget, occupancy sensors and time-based controls could be used.
- In facilities with large areas of exterior glass, daylighting control systems work well. But daylighting control systems won't save energy if they're not coordinated with controls that monitor the amount of daylight available in a given space and dim or switch off lights accordingly.
- Replace incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) where you can. This might be in light fixtures such as general purpose down lights, in sconces, table lamps, task lights — perhaps decorative lighting like wall washers. CFLs may cost more than incandescent lamps, but CFLs, which last significantly longer than incandescent, quickly pay for themselves through energy — and maintenance — savings. The longer the annual operating hours, the more attractive CFLs become, because you also avoid the cost of incandescent relamping.
How do I compare outdoor lighting proposals?
There are several things to consider when you're comparing outdoor lighting options, and each has the ability to increase or decrease your long-term costs. For instance, Lighting Loss Factor (LLF) is specified in a design to create a safety margin for the depreciation of the light output over time. As they're used, lights lose efficacy, and a design that doesn't compensate for LLF won't perform as specified after a few years of exposure and bulb age. A design with a low LLF, usually .8, or a 20 percent margin, will cost more to purchase but less to run, which results in a net savings in the long term. Another thing to consider is average, minimum and maximum foot-candles. Foot-candles are often used as measures of how evenly distributed the light is by a given design. It can be misleading to state an evenness measure in terms of average foot-candles because it is possible to use fewer, higher-power lamps to create a given "average" illumination that is actually quite uneven in areas. While this may result in a lower purchase price, designs translated in average foot-candles could add significantly to your long term operating costs. A good lighting design provides adequate illumination with energy-efficient bulbs by increasing its uniformity. Therefore, a more accurate measure of total cost of ownership is the Uniformity Ratio. This is derived by dividing the average foot-candles by the minimum foot-candles, and a lower ratio is better. A good design typically has a 6-1 ratio. For benchmarking purposes, a 1-1 ratio is only achievable, in practical terms, by the sun.
How do I judge the uniformity of lighting levels?
Uniformity is a measure of how evenly or "smoothly" the lighting level is spread out over an area. It is expressed as a uniformity ratio of average foot-candles divided by the minimum allowable foot-candles. The lower this ratio, the better.
How do you determine if your foot-candle level is adequate?
Benchmarking. First establish what levels are proven desirable or even required in facilities similar to yours. For example, an office park requires a lower foot-candle rating than a sports stadium.
How do you determine the simple payback of adding energy efficient equipment or processes?
To determine simple payback, you divide the cost savings from any avoided energy costs by the cost of the new equipment or the cost of installing the new process. Keep in mind there will also be savings associated with any improvement in productivity attributed to the new equipment or process.
How does the color of light affect efficiency?
If it's important to have accurate color under a lighting system, the best choice is Metal Halide lamps. If the color temperature of the light is not important, then High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps such as high pressure sodium will work. They produce the most light per watt. This lowers costs, especially when lights must be left on all night.
How high above the ground should foot-candle measurements be taken?
Given that the light source is located above the ground, it costs more to achieve adequate lighting levels on the ground than it does to achieve them at three feet above street level (and therefore closer to the light source). However, your customers, employees and suppliers all walk and drive closer to the ground than they do to the light source. They also need to be able to see the ground clearly.
In planning a new build or renovation, what is necessary to consider in terms of heat flow and light energy?
When designing new facilities or renovations, consider strategies for controlling heat flow and light energy to minimize energy costs. Light energy can be controlled using window overhangs for shade, shading of glass surfaces, and glazing material for exposed window surfaces - along with many other techniques. Methods for controlling heat flow include careful selection of wall and roofing materials, as well as natural ventilation and landscaping. Mississippi Power experts and your other advisors and contractors can help you select strategies which provide a good return on investment (ROI).
What are some things to consider before retrofitting a warehouse and adding skylighting?
Cost-effective and energy-efficient, skylights used diffused natural light to illuminates spaces. Using them appropriately can reduce energy costs. They've also been shown to boost productivity and employee morale. According to designlights.org's "Warehousing Skylighting Know How," the optimal spacing of skylights is no more than "1.5 times the ceiling height." It also suggests using a glazing material to diffuse light and reduce glare. Adding a photocontrol system that adjusts electric lights relative to daylighting will further reduce energy costs. To get the most bang for your buck, paint the ceiling and structural elements of the warehouse white.
What do I need to know about security lighting?
Security Lighting should provide adequate lighting for safety in these areas:
- your parking lot
- along routes to and from your building
- strategic locations such as rear or hidden entrances
Brightness should be specified so that it gives enough light for security personnel or police to see suspicious activity but not so much as to create glare in security cameras. It may also be a good idea to install lighting sensors so facade lighting doesn't run during daylight conditions.
What is solid-state lighting and why is it so revolutionary?
The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that by 2030, solid-state lighting (SSL), which is much more energy efficient and longer lasting, could reduce the annual U.S. electricity consumption by about 25 percent (when compared to a scenario with no SSL on the market) — enough energy to illuminate 95 million U.S. homes. An emerging clean energy technology, SSL uses various forms of light-emitting diodes as illumination sources. SSL is expected to make a significant energy and environmental impact over the course of the next decade. By 2025, the DOE's SSL Core Technology Research and Product Development SSL R&D Program hopes to have advanced solid-state lighting technologies that are much "more energy efficient, longer lasting, and cost-competitive" than conventional lighting technologies.
What is the relationship between artificial lighting and air conditioning?
Not only are artificial lighting and air conditioning the largest consumers of electricity in a typical commercial building, the two are closely tied. The more artificial light in a building, the greater the heat load imposed on air conditioning systems from lamps and ballasts. By selectively increasing natural light in your space, you can decrease the need for artificial light and reduce the energy required by both lighting and air conditioning systems. Keep in mind that west-facing glass can bring in a significant amount of heat, adding to cooling costs in warmer months. In low-rise to multi-story consider planting trees that lose their leaves (deciduous) to help shade the glass. In summer, when you don't want the heat from the outdoor light, the leaves will block it. In winter, when you want the added warmth, the trees will have shed their leaves and will let the sun — and its warmth — filter through.
Why should I invest in facade and landscape lighting and, if I do, any rules of thumb?
Lighting facades and landscapes adds beauty, attracts attention and can advertise your facility to potential customers. Since these types of lighting fixtures are typically hidden from view, it makes sense to choose less expensive — yet sturdy — fixtures. For maintenance purposes, mount the fixtures so they can be accessed easily. And angling the light upward will reduce glare and bring out the textures of the building and landscape elements. It may also be a good idea to install lighting sensors so facade lighting doesn't run during daylight conditions.
Will upgrading the building envelope help control heat flow and light energy?
If you're renovating an older building or designing a new one, controlling heat flow and light energy to minimize costs is key. Examine the various strategies for envelope energy conservation and select ones that provide the adequate savings to justify their expense.
These strategies include:
- Incorporating overhangs to shade windows
- Shading glass surfaces from radiant heat while introducing natural daylight into a building
- Selecting the appropriate glazing material for exposed window surfaces
- Selecting the correct materials for opaque surfaces (walls and roof)
- Using natural ventilation where appropriate
In smaller, low-rise buildings, landscaping can be used to decrease energy consumption. Planting mature or nearly mature deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves seasonally) can provide shade for low, east- or west-facing windows. Trees and shrubs can control glare from adjacent surfaces and materials such as neighboring buildings and/or reflective glass surfaces. They can also shade parking lot surfaces, reducing the temperature of paved materials and lowering ambient air temperatures around buildings. Finally, plant materials can be used to control and funnel breezes into ventilated portions of buildings where the direction and speed of the prevailing winds are dependable.