Dave Cary, Communication Specialist
Orion Energy Systems
Karen Fiedler, Solid Waste Supervisor
Waukesha County, Waukesha WI
What does changing the lighting at a recycling facility have to do with the environment? If the lighting uses less power than what preceded it, the power saved does not have to be generated at all. And the pollutants that would have been produced by that power are produced no longer.
Waukesha County recently replaced 58 400-watt metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights with a mixture of 58 294- 221- and 157-Watt Illuminator ® T8 fluorescent fixtures made by Orion Energy Services of Plymouth WI.
As a result, according to Orion figures, the power the county used for lighting fell from 70,122 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year to 33,103, a 52% drop of 37,019. The facility’s electric bill fell correspondingly — and so did the associated pollution.
The county’s 37,019 kWh reduction will mean that each year 36 tons of carbon dioxide, 10 tons of carbon, 200 lbs of sulfur dioxide and 100 pounds of nitrogen oxides — all pollutant ‘greenhouse’ gases — will not enter the atmosphere. Stated another way, the reduction is the air-scrubbing equivalent of a seven-acre forest or removing six cars permanently from the road. It is also the conservation equivalent of saving 3,056 gallons of gasoline per year.
The Department of Parks and Land Use oversees the County recycling program.
According to Solid Waste Supervisor Karen Fiedler, “Because conservation of resources and protection of the environment is part of our mission, it was important to choose lighting that saved energy as well as increased visibility for the workers. We are very pleased with the results.”
Scott Miller, county Facilities Supervisor, explained how the project came about.
“We had HPS lighting,” Miller said. “It was poor lighting, giving off that orange tint. The people that work in the facility are sorting recyclables — paper, plastics, cans, bottles, metals — so we were interested not only from an energy-saving standpoint but worker comfort and productivity, too.”
“We did a cost comparison of Orion and two other lighting companies and Orion was the best fit and had the best payback of any. Being a public entity, we have to be good stewards of a tax dollar.”
“We appreciate receiving the award. We like to be recognized as energy- and environmentally-conscious, especially since we are a public entity. We’re glad things worked out this way.”
Both the environmental impact and the cost savings involved are possible because Orion Illuminator ™ fixtures have been engineered to use a specially formed, highly reflective surface to ‘harvest’ light that is emitted from all sides of a fluorescent tube. The ‘harvested’ light is directed downward where it is usable, and, as a result, The Illuminator ™ fixture provides more light from far less energy than standard fixtures.
Typically, an Illuminator ™ fixture is fitted with T8 full-spectrum fluorescent tubes and electronic ballasts. As a result, Orion systems turn on instantly, and provide a much more natural type of light than older fluorescent types. This makes them more popular with employees in the typical workplace.
The Illuminator ™ fixture has been awarded several U.S. patents and recently won for Orion Wisconsin’s prestigious Spirit of Ecology and Manufacturer of the Year awards, as well.
“Important as they are, the benefits of this project do not end with cost savings, positive environmental impact and a better quality of light,” commented Orion president Neal Verfuerth. “Taking 37,019 kWh off the power grid benefits our economy because it tends to lessen the upward pressure on electric power rates by decreasing the demand – and that is an issue we are all facing.”
These savings are real and permanent,” Verfuerth continued. “This sustainable savings of electrical consumption could serve as a model, and is especially important for smaller businesses and entities who are actually players in a global energy marketplace.”
“But best of all, Waukesha County didn’t have to give anything up or ‘do without’ to achieve all this. I see nothing but benefits in their move in any direction I look. And that is the way we think things should work.”
Waukesha County is located in southeastern Wisconsin, just west of Milwaukee. It includes 37 municipalities within 576 square miles of suburban and rural areas. From providing and maintaining beautiful park space and pristine lakes to exceptional roadways and renowned public safety infrastructure, Waukesha County government is a critical component to ensuring and maintaining the high quality of life that our residents expect and visitors enjoy. There are over 12,000 employers in Waukesha County who employ more than 218,000 workers. Manufacturing (26%), services (25%), and retail trade (16%) represent the largest employment sectors, while economic growth and associated employment opportunities continue to be strong, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. The county’s population increased by 56,052 during the 1990’s and now stands at 360,767 residents. Visit the county website at http://www.waukeshacounty.gov/
Orion Energy Services has been innovating in the energy and lighting business since 1996. Orion’s innovative Illuminator ® fixture, an energy-efficient lighting platform for industrial applications, has been awarded a series of 14 patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Additionally, Orion has applied for numerous other patents related to metering and control technologies for lighting. Neal Verfuerth, Orion President, received one of Wisconsin’s most prestigious awards, the Ernst & Young 2004 Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year. Orion provides capacity displacement solutions for supply side management, transmission management, and demand side management for the electricity industry. Visit the Orion website at http://www.oriones.com/