Shading and Lighting Retrofit Reduces Energy Usage by Nearly 80%

by | Jul 11, 2017

A recent experiment by the Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab found that using advanced lighting and automated shades resulted in a reduction of lighting energy use of nearly 80%

The project was launched to show that installing the latest generation of smart, actively controlled energy efficient lighting and shading can dramatically lower energy costs and enhance the quality of the work environment in office buildings.

As reported in

“Context matters when it comes to figuring out where the market barriers are with respect to contractors, facility managers, and office workers – isolated tests in a laboratory environment are often not enough,” said Berkeley Lab scientist Eleanor Lee. “Reducing stakeholders’ uncertainty about performance and occupant response in a real-world setting can be critical to accelerating market adoption.”

To get the data, Berkeley Lab set up a “living laboratory” to test four sets of technologies on one 40,000 square-foot floor of a building. From there, researchers used thermal imaging to measure surface temperatures near the window, which was used to evaluate the occupants’ level of thermal comfort. Researchers monitored the effects of the retrofit for six months, following a year-long baseline monitoring period before the upgrades were installed.

The website noted that, “compared to the baseline condition, energy use for lighting in the 40-foot deep perimeter zone on the living lab floor declined 79%, while the associated peak lighting electric demand decreased 74%. Much of the savings came from the switch from fluorescent lamps to LEDs and being able to dim lights across the floor, not just next to the windows. The advanced controls enabled more granular fixture-by-fixture control with wireless sensors and communications, enabling zone control to be customized at the work-group level.”

And while heating and cooling use weren’t monitored for this particular study, researchers estimated that a building-wide retrofit would have provided total electricity cost savings of $730,000 a year, assuming an average rate of $0.20 per kilowatt hour. Using industry estimates of typical installed system costs ranging from $3 to $10 per square foot, the retrofits would pay for themselves in three to 12 years.

In years past, many companies have implemented lighting retrofits to save on costs. A lighting retrofit project implemented at Dassault Falcon Jet Corp.’s distribution center delivered a 90% reduction in lighting energy usage annually, leading to more than $53K in annual energy costs. The upgrade also reduced maintenance needed, providing an additional $9,250 in annual savings.

More recently, Fifth Third Bank completed a $4 million energy-efficient LED lighting installation project at facilities in four states, which will reduce the Bank’s lighting-related energy consumption by 50%, or 6.3 million kilowatt-hours per year in energy savings.

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