At CLS Facility Services, we often field questions from facility managers and building owners around the country about cost-effective strategies to “green” their stores and facilities. More and more, they are starting to understand the economic and environmental benefits of green products and processes; but in many cases, they seem unsure which way to turn, or how to move forward in a way that won’t explode their annual maintenance budget.

There are dozens and dozens of options to green a store or facility—from integrating solar technologies where appropriate, to installing energy management systems (EMS), cladding rooftops with specialty turf products, installing efficient plumbing systems, and much more. But given the demanding budgetary constraints that facility managers face each year, we believe one of the best ways to integrate green into your stores and facilities – and realize a significant ROI – is through energy-efficient lighting—specifically, light emitting diodes, or LEDs.

LEDs have set the standard for lighting efficiency. Referred to as LEDs because of the small energy efficient diodes which produce a large amount of concentrated light, the term LED refers to lamps, fixtures, the diodes, and even the technology itself.

LED technologies have come down in price in recent years, accelerating payback expectancies and helping to make retrofit projects more cost efficient. Yet beyond cost savings realized through lower prices and, in many cases, LED rebates, LEDs offer a host of other benefits, green and otherwise. These include:

  • Energy savings: With advancements in technologies, today’s lighting retrofits can create energy savings ranging anywhere from 40% to 90%, depending upon the type of project.
  • Maintenance cost savings: T-8, LED, Induction, and other modern technologies are fostering significant maintenance savings due to the extended life or “burn hours” of the new lighting.  Many LED technologies exhibit a rated life ranging from 50,000-100,000 hours, more than three times the life of the old T-12 and HID technologies of the past.
  • Improved aesthetics: Today’s latest-generation lighting technology delivers a better color rendering mix, better uniformity and spread of light, and better lumen maintenance (i.e., light levels will hold at higher levels for longer periods of time).
  • Better security and employee safety when areas, both interior and exterior, are optimally lit with better lighting technology.
  • Environmental sensitivity: Unlike Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, and T-12 lighting, modern LED lighting technologies eliminate mercury from facilities, creating a safer environment and “go green” image for businesses.
  • Tenant satisfaction, health and efficiency: Some building owners and managers have implemented lighting retrofits in order to capitalize on rebates. Others have implemented them for energy savings, security and other reasons. Yet we at CLS help clients implement lighting retrofits every day, and one of the greatest benefits we see is tenants’ reaction once it’s completed. We’ve literally had tenants thank us personally on site for implementing the retrofit – they tell us their building looks so much better both inside and out, and it’s just a more pleasant and safe environment in which to work. Tenants want to be in spaces that are well-lit, pleasant and healthy. Studies now underway are attempting to measure potential correlations between lighting and physical and emotional well-being. We believe those correlations are real, and will show up in the data to underscore the significant benefit of lighting retrofits on employee health and productivity.

Three key considerations for any LED retrofit project

If you’re thinking about an LED retrofit for your stores, keep the following three pointers in mind:

1. Evaluate the relationship between cost and ROI before implementing a retrofit: Today’s lighting products last anywhere from three to 10 years longer than their T-8 predecessors, while return on investment (ROI) ranges from one to three years. [In fact, some lighting elements within a facility, such as elevators and exit signs, actually realize the greatest ROI from today’s technologies, given that they are illuminated 24/7/365.

As costs continue to fall, ROI for building owners and managers will continue to rise. Yet ROI is different for everyone, and certain variables can determine the extent to which ROI justifies your up-front cost. These include your current electricity costs with the signage you now have; how long you plan to remain in a given location; and how many feet (or inches, as the case may be) of LED you plan on using, both for specific signage, and for all cumulative signage in a given facility.

2. Rebates don’t drive purchases like they used to, but they may still be available: A facility management company like CLS has its finger on the pulse of the rebate game; we check on behalf of our clients to see what rebates are available.

This can be a cumbersome calculation as the number of facilities increases, and it can make for a difficult analysis. Experienced facility management providers like CLS are specially trained to conduct signage analyses and provide ROI expectations. We encourage you to consider using one.

3.Buy from a reputable source: When LEDs first hit the market, lots of companies sold them – including many fly-by-night outfits. Many of those providers are no longer in the game, so when it comes to honoring LED product warranties, companies that are out of business can’t honor them.

We recommend buying LEDs from known entities and reputable sources. GE and Sloan LED are two manufacturers that are viable, healthy, time-tested and reliable.

Go-Forward Strategies

Based on our experience engineering lighting retrofits for hundreds of customers nationwide, we at CLS think lighting retrofits make sense on so many levels. We’ve written extensively about LED retrofits in past blogs and addressed many key issues, including ROI, implementation strategies and more. To read our posts, visit our blog page.

If our blogs have piqued your interest, and you’d like to learn more about lighting retrofits for your stores and facilities, please give us a call. We can talk through specifics of your requirement; explain LED technologies and products in detail (we’re fascinated by all building technologies, and definitely LED—we love talking about it); discuss your ROI expectations; and design a solution to accommodate your budget and meet your needs.

If you are looking for a facility management company for 2017, with close to 50 years of experience managing multiple locations nationally, learn more about CLS Facility Services by contacting us at 800-548-3542 or by filling out our contact form.