Top 12 Strategies to Maximize Cost Savings

08/24/2012 | By Janelle Penny

Innovative expense-slashing solutions drive operational efficiency

Ever learned a new facility management trick while talking shop with a colleague?

BUILDINGS surveyed facilities professionals across the country to gather inexpensive ideas and creative strategies. Join the conversation – email your best tips to for possible inclusion in a future issue.

1) Eliminate Energy Hogs with Lighting Upgrades
With lighting requiring an estimated 35% of the average commercial building’s energy spend according to EPA estimates, lighting is a logical place to start hunting for savings.

For Green Bay Area Public Schools, this took the form of phased retrofits to replace T12 fluorescents with more efficient T8s in most areas and using T8s or T5s to replace high-pressure sodium lighting in gymnasiums. Thanks to a grant from Focus on Energy, a state-run organization funded by a small allotment from Wisconsin utility bills, the facilities team replaced the lighting in an entire middle school in one fell swoop. Additional replacements ensued during renovations. Multiple building systems, including lighting, are also linked to direct digital controls (DDC) to allow the FMs to adjust settings and troubleshoot.

“We tried to experiment by dimming the lights between classes,” recalls Bruce Kitzman, the recently retired director of facilities. “That didn’t work because the staff was concerned that they couldn’t see down the halls. At another school, we dimmed the lights about half a minute after class started and then turned them back on a minute before class was over, but when students saw the lights go on, they started packing up and the teachers lost their attention. Now we turn the lights off between classes with digital control.”

2) Look into LEDs
Syracuse City School District in Syracuse, NY, took a similar tack when renovating two high school classrooms last year. Nine LED fixtures paired with a digital sensing and control system replaced 17 existing two-lamp T8 fixtures in each of the rooms, resulting in energy savings of more than 65%.

“The new system only took two electricians and a laborer approximately five hours to install, energize, and commission the system, including pulling wire 200-plus feet from the electrical control room,” says Ron Kenyon, educational facilities planner and architect for the district. “The system runs on 24 DC volt power and is wired with standard Cat. 5 cable with no conduit.”

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center chose LEDs to replace existing lighting in a parking garage open 24/7, halving the garage’s power consumption. Meanwhile, Mediapolis Community Schools in Mediapolis, IA, also embarked on a retrofit of LED exterior lighting, notes FM Dennis Breuer.

“Most of our old lights were either 250 or 175 watts. Those were replaced with 30-watt LED,” Breuer says. “Our 70-watt lights were replaced with 20-watt LEDs and our 70-watt can lights were replaced with 10-watt LEDs. We’ll get a nice rebate from our electric company, plus monthly savings on our electric bill.”

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