Lighting upgrade proposals are routinely designed around the financial opportunities that upgrades can deliver and the boost they can add to the bottom line. But what about the all-important environmental benefits of a lighting upgrade? Imagine how compelling it would be to quantitatively measure and share the green contribution that a facility’s lighting upgrade is making to the environment.
The adverse effects of current levels of electricity use on the environment are staggering. Recent statistics from the U.S. DOE’s Energy Information Administration reveal that 2.5 billion tons of pollutants, including sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and carbon dioxide (CO2), are emitted every year as a byproduct of electricity generation by utility companies. Over time, emissions have waged profound negative effects on the environment, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer and increased levels of acid rain and cardiac and respiratory ailments.
Lighting upgrades – involving energy-efficient lamps, ballasts, and lighting controls – make great strides toward offsetting these adverse effects and reducing the ecological footprint. By using the following formulas, which are derived from a 2009 energy savings calculator developed by the EPA and DOE, you can build this critical element into lighting upgrade proposals you develop – identifying the green aspect of the project, or the CO2 reduction and air pollution reduction equivalence (in terms of acres of trees planted and cars removed from U.S. roads). This environmental data will help raise awareness of this important (but often overlooked) lighting upgrade benefit.
The Calculation Tool
Though originally calculated based on the environmental benefits associated with conversion of one conventional, less-efficient lamp to an ENERGY STAR-rated compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), the following formulas have been broadened to apply to any lighting upgrade project involving any lighting technology:
Air Pollution Reduction Delivered by a Lighting Upgrade: Pounds of CO2 emission avoided over life of the new lamp (based on an estimated 8,000- to 10,000-hour lamp life): 15.4 pounds/Watt saved
Equivalent number of cars removed from U.S. roads annually: 0.0013/Watt saved
Equivalent number of acres of trees planted: 0.0015/Watt saved
Let’s look at the following lighting upgrade scenarios to demonstrate the use of these formulas:
Example #1: Retail Store
Old technology: 40-Watt halogen PARs
New technology: 11-Watt LED PARs
Watts saved per fixture: 29
Number of fixtures: 50
Pounds of CO2 emission avoided over the life of the new lamps (based on an estimated 8,000- to 10,000-hour lamp life): 15.4 pounds x 29 Watts saved/fixture x 50 fixtures = 22,330 pounds of CO2
Equivalent number of cars removed from U.S. roads annually: 0.0013/Watt saved x 29 Watts saved/fixture x 50 fixtures = 1.9 cars removed annually
Equivalent number of acres of trees planted: 0.0015/Watt saved x 29 Watts saved/fixture x 50 fixtures = 2.2 acres of trees planted.
Example #2: Commercial Building
Old technology: 40-Watt T12 lamps with magnetic ballasts
New technology: Energy-saving 25-Watt T8 lamps with electronic ballasts
Watts saved per fixture: 15 (without additional savings from ballast)
Number of fixtures: 10,000
Pounds of CO2 emission avoided over the life of the new lamps (based on an estimated 8,000- to 10,000-hour lamp life): 15.4 pounds x 15 Watts saved/fixture x 10,000 fixtures = 2.31 million pounds of CO2
Equivalent number of cars removed from U.S. roads annually: 0.0013/Watt saved x 15 Watts saved/fixture x 10,000 fixtures = 195 cars removed annually
Equivalent number of acres of trees planted: 0.0015/Watt saved x 15 Watts saved/fixture x 10,000 fixtures = 225 acres of trees planted
Deliver Green Value
As the examples show, a lighting upgrade of any size can benefit the environment; lighting proposals can now demonstrate the measurable green contribution associated with a facility’s lighting upgrade. On top of their attractive financial benefits, energy-efficient lighting upgrades within the country’s buildings do more than reduce energy costs, improve productivity, and enhance system quality — they benefit the environment and conserve precious natural resources.
Don’t hesitate to include an assessment of the green element in your analysis of a lighting upgrade using the simple guidelines above. It will not only enhance the quality of your proposals, but also help you understand how your actions are driving a more healthy future. B
Susan Bloom is a consultant and an 18-year veteran of the lighting and electrical products industry.
For more on energy-efficient lighting, read our Lighting Control for Existing Buildings article online.