Lighting improvements have consistently been the most popular type of energy upgrade identified by Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellows. This is intuitive for several reasons:
- Outdated lighting hangs right above us, allowing for ready inspection
- Lighting retrofits are relatively simple to perform
- Upgrades often provide improved lighting quality and aesthetic appeal
- The financial and energy savings can be significant and are fairly predictable
One trend we’ve observed at Environmental Defense Fund has been the growing popularity of LED lighting. Each year, upgrades utilizing LED technology represent more and more of the lighting retrofits fellows evaluate. LED project proposals went from 16 percent of lighting upgrades fellows recommended in 2012 to nearly half of all lighting projects in 2013.
This shift reflects the growing popularity of LEDs in the broader market. As technology has improved, the price of LEDs has decreased, making retrofits using LEDs more financially viable. According to research by Groom Energy, the price of commercial and industrial LED lamps and fixtures declined by 24 percent from 2010 to 2012. Rebates and incentives are often available, defraying the upfront costs of LED retrofits and making these options even more attractive. Prices are also coming down in the consumer space, where companies like Walmart now sell LED bulbs for less than 10 dollars.
EDF fellows are now proposing LED lighting upgrades that make sense in a wide variety of applications and facility types. Lighting in parking lots, garages and other outdoor areas are a frequent target, especially in locations with a lot of space, such as the film lots at Sony Pictures Entertainment. Retail locations are also popular; at Smart and Final in 2013, Michael Sciortino performed financial analysis of a pilot LED project and the enterprise-wide roll-out of LED fixtures. Fellows have also worked to evaluate LED lighting in offices at companies like Turner Broadcasting System. Even museums and galleries, where lighting quality is highly scrutinized and subject to strict standards, are evaluating the technology.
Given the energy savings LED lighting offers, we look forward to continued growth and development in this space. This summer, over 100 new EDF Climate Corps fellows will set out to find energy savings in organizations across the country, and if 2014 is anything like 2013, they’ll find millions of dollars in potential savings from LED lighting. If you haven’t considered LED before, or haven’t recently, it might be a good time to re-evaluate. The savings and new potential for these bulbs might surprise you.