When we moved into our building in 2020, we knew immediately that we had some necessary energy efficiency upgrades to do. First on the list was lighting. The offices were lit by dim, old fluorescent fixtures that hummed and buzzed, and the warehouse had a patchwork array of energy-sucking halogen fixtures and semi-broken fluorescent tubes. For reasons unknown, there was no lighting at all in the center of the warehouse. It was so dark out on the warehouse floor that we had to run extension cords and lamps out to assembly areas and workstations. Luckily, we have some skylights, but as winter arrived and the sun started going down at 3 pm, it was pretty much impossible to work in some parts of the warehouse without a headlamp. Staff were complaining about eye-strain and our energy consumption was through the roof. It was a lose-lose situation.
Here's a timelapse of our warehouse shelving getting installed, which happened a couple weeks before we did the lighting upgrade. The squares of light on the ceiling are the skylights – you can see them go dark when the sun goes down.
Here's another shot from before the upgrade. It was scary-dark at night, and that's less than ideal for a workplace. We also felt like it wasn't the safest working environment. (If you look closely you can see our designer, Geoff showing off his pull-up prowess on the bottom rung of the shelving.)
After many phone calls and various site-visits, we found a great green-lighting installation company who walked us through our options and put together a plan for transforming our space by making sure every square foot of the warehouse would be lit evenly with clean, white light. The cool thing about the new LED fixtures is that they're all on motion sensors so they shut off when no one is around and automatically turn back on when they're needed. All the exterior lighting and parking lot lamps were upgraded to LED and put on automatic sunlight sensors, so they come on by themselves when it gets dark at night.
While all of this planning was going down, we started work on our USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grant (more on that later), and had an energy efficiency assessor come out to our space, review our lighting plan, and write up a report on all the areas we could improve to conserve energy.
Here's what the warehouse looked like after the upgrade.
We immediately noticed about a 30% savings in our electric bill, plus now it's light enough to see what you're doing wherever you're working. Everyone also seems to work more efficiently now too because it doesn't feel like it's bedtime all day long.
The lights in the offices are also so much nicer to work beneath all day long, and the occupancy sensors in the restrooms and common areas mean that lights are never left on if no one is using them.
At this point, every single bulb and fixture on our property is an energy-saving LED. All of the halogen and fluorescents have been replaced. No more buzzing, humming, or horror-movie lighting – it's pretty amazing.