If your building has not already upgraded to LED lighting, this article may be useful in terms of developing your own plan for a LED retro-fit. Local Law 88 and Local Law 134 require all buildings 25,000 sf or larger to upgrade to energy efficient LED lighting. Since this mandated upgrade is not an “if”, but a “when”, here are a few guidelines to help make your own upgrade a success.
First, see your LED upgrade as a quality project with a long and useful life – not just a lamp change. Because LED products use less energy than traditional lighting, the before / after utility bill differential – over time – is how we recommend you fund your project. The key to the success of this approach is directly tied to the LED products selected, as covered in more detail below.
To better illustrate the utility bill differential, which will “fund” your retrofit, here are some comparisons of electric consumption levels of traditional lighting products as opposed to LED products – along with their useful product lives:
60 Watt A19 Lamp – 2,000-hour useful life. / LED Replacement: 9 Watt LED Lamp with a 25,000-hour useful life – 5 Year Warranty. (85% savings with the LED Lamp.)
40 Watt Candelabra Lamp – 5,000-hour useful life / LED Replacement: 5 Watt LED Candle with a 25,000-hour useful life – 5 Year Warranty. (88% savings with the LED Candle.)
32 Watt 4′ T8 Fluorescent Tube – 20,000-hour useful life / LED Replacement: 12 Watt LED Tube with a 70,000-hour useful life – 5-year warranty. (63% savings with the LED tube.)
Note that all of these LED products have a 5-year warranty – a substantially longer useful life as compared to the traditional lighting products that they replace.
In terms of the savings from the lower utility bills, it will take two to three years, on average, following completion of your LED retrofit for the accumulated savings differential to cover the cost of your LED retrofit. After the installation cost has been “paid”, the continuing lower utility bills will then “generate” the “return” on your retrofit investment. So in terms of the economics, you need to structure your LED retrofit to have a guaranteed minimum of a five-year useful life to make these economics work. As five-year manufacturers’ warranties for LED products are readily available for quality LED products, making a five-year warranty for all of the LED products included in your project should be an absolute requirement. With the five year guarantee, the retrofit cost is covered with margin to spare.
Do not be tempted by low cost LED products available on the internet. Remember these discounted products are “low cost” for a reason. They do not meet the quality standards to qualify for longer-term warranties. Focus on the required minimum of a five-year useful product life that is the economic underpinning of your LED retrofit.
Another important benefit from a LED upgrade is less maintenance. With the longer useful lives of LED products – minimum 5 years – far less building staff time will be required for failed lamp changes. Without a continuing program of lamp changes, there will be very little, if any, replacement lamp stock that must be maintained. Additionally, for those buildings that have architecturally designed lighting, it is far easier to maintain the integrity of the design over the long term because of the long life the LED products.
In terms of initiating your own LED retrofit project, we recommend starting with a model that will give you an accurate picture of the economics – installed cost, annual savings and payback. For this model, you will need your existing lighting costs, including annual electric consumption, costs for lamp replacement products as well as maintenance time for lamp replacement. This is the “before” – your starting benchmark to measure the cost-effectiveness of any proposed LED retrofit plan. For the “after”, you will need the specifics of the LED replacement products selected to determine your “installed” cost as well as the annual operating expenses to develop your payback calculations. For this model, we would recommend that you work with a consultant with the capacity to model lighting projects. Green Partners, a Con Ed Marketing Partner, develops lighting project models utilizing Con Ed software for a reliable estimate of your costs. Green Partners also has the capacity to provide a turnkey installation, including sourcing product as well as installation.
One final word of practical advice. Make sure that you install a sample of each LED product that you plan to incorporate in your retrofit. These samples should be installed in the same locations where the final installation will take place. Green Partners provides samples at no cost for qualifying projects. For more information, please call 212-645-0025 to contact George Crawford or send an email to email@example.com.
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- Con Ed Market Partners, Specializing in Rebates and Incentives for LED Lighting Retrofits
- NYSERDA Multifamily Performance Program (MPP) Partner
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