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By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor
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The LED parking lot project was also beneficial from a maintenance standpoint.
"We saw they had a lot of maintenance benefits," Valair says. "The fact that every time in a parking lot you have to roll out a bucket truck and get somebody out there to change out lights versus waiting to do a complete wash or re-lamp eight or nine years out. We were able to do a complete lighting upgrade when the life expectancy was three to four times longer. We had lights that were 50,000 hours (life expectancy) going to 80,000 hours."
The LEDs also produced a brighter light which comforted employees walking to and from their vehicles in the dark.
"One of the things with the LEDs that people probably noticed was it was a dramatic increase," Valair says. "The white is much whiter. It was crystal clear, and you could see it drop right off. We were able to light areas that were darker before and now were lit."
The company's security team was responsible for keeping 3,000 employees updated on parking during the project.
"The biggest thing is staging and making sure you're working with your contractor, because they'd like to come in and block off six rows," Valair says. "So what we did was stage the area, and put a notice in that we'll contact employees that they have to move their cars. We staged areas so we wouldn't disrupt our employees, who were in a business meeting and they say 'you want me to move my car?'"
One of the first steps Staples took during the parking lot project was to consult with the local utility about potential rebates. That decision helped the company receive a $17,000 rebate for the retrofit project.
"The rebates play an important role," Valair says. "We bring the utilities right in from the get-go. Sometimes, with new technology, they have a custom program, and it's all about reducing kilowatts and kilowatts per hour. If they can see the before and after, it makes a huge difference."
The rebate helped drive payback for the project down to 3.32 years, well within the company's goal of a two-four year return on investment (ROI) on such projects. The company was pleased with the results.
"We like to promise less and deliver more," Valair says. "You always want to be conservative, and we've been able to exceed all those numbers."
The company experienced an annual energy cost savings of about $34,000 a year from the parking lot lighting project, which translates to energy savings of almost 216,000 kilowatts per year. The project was also an environmental success because it reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 330,000 pounds, which is the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 19 vehicles each year.
"At the end of the day, we all want to use less and be efficient," Valair says. "The energy rebates play a big role."
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