The Eco Engineering Approach
Eco has successfully completed hundreds of projects in the distribution center and freight terminal environment involving millions of square feet of total space.
Important criteria when dealing with distribution centers, especially unheated freight terminals and docks is temperature and the effects that extreme cold or hot temperatures may have on the light output. This is equally true in a cold storage facility – same lighting technologies like LED thrive in a cold environment. Additionally, the mounting heights of fixtures will affect the light distribution. In both cases, it’s imperative that the design team selects the correct “lighting system”, i.e., lamp, ballast, fixture, and sensor.
Ambient photocell sensors can automatically control the ‘‘off/on” function for many types of lighting, thus saving more energy. There may not be a need to turn on a bright light by a window or dock on a sunny day. Eco Engineers and auditors explore what areas within the terminals can have “lights off” and incorporate specific recommendations regarding ambient sensor technology where appropriate. Special attention is placed on evaluating security and safety issues while engineering the correct and financially prudent sensor solution.
In warehouse areas without 24×7 activity, motion sensors conserve significant energy by shutting lights down when there is no activity. We often test our systems using light loggers on lamps and fixtures. One sensor study found average energy savings of 78% from adding motion sensors in distribution centers which the local managers had thought were relatively busy! Safety issues must be elevated to paramount importance when considering motion sensors. Some areas in a facility, such as maintenance bays, are unlikely candidates to install motion sensors since they may need to stay lit even when no one is using them.
The most important decision you will make is the fixture design for your space. This choice will determine whether your light is spread evenly over the vertical and horizontal areas being measured, or whether you want “hot spots”.
– The width of the light beam: narrow, medium, or wide design
– The type of lamp technology: T8 or T5 or LED
– Amalgam lamps or regular lamps
– Is a mirror or other anodized polished aluminum surface required
– Should the fixture have a lens, or cage
– Should the fixture be aluminum, or steel
– Should the ballast be mounted inside, or on top of the fixture to manage heat.
We will guide you through all these choices when we walk you through the CAD renderings showing the light levels.
Many freight and distribution centers have an area dedicated to maintenance and repair of their equipment. The location of the lighting in the maintenance bay is primarily in between the rows where vehicle traffic occurs. Proper location of fixtures in this case helps insure sufficient lighting to maximize accuracy and productivity of maintenance work while optimizing energy efficiency.
Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Savings
Freight and Distribution Center environments often provide an opportunity for significant savings in MRO following a lighting upgrade. The new lamps and ballasts will operate for up to three years or longer without requiring maintenance
These savings can carry a significant impact on the financial payback analysis associated with the project.
Eco Engineering works closely with our clients to calculate the current MRO expenses, and then we conservatively estimate the savings from spare parts inventory management and labor costs, including them in the project’s economics.
Total Building Savings
While the warehouse, distribution center and loading docks of these facilities are often fairly uniform, the buildings often contain office and employee space that is unique along with outdoor wall posts and parking overhead lot lights. If these add-on spaces are audited and evaluated for a lighting upgrade project, the extra square footage may produce added energy savings. The solution designed for these areas is likely to be very different from the warehouse spaces. For example, while it may be desirable to use a high lumen lamp in the warehouse high bay fixtures, it may be desirable to use a new energy saving 28 watt lamp in the offices. We look carefully at maintenance practices to ensure our design will be easily maintained so office lamps won’t get mixed up with warehouse lamps. Eco has experience with many projects fitting this situation and has seen the added impact of the non-warehouse square footage create the difference between an acceptable project payback and a borderline financial business case. Additionally, energy rebates and tax credits – like those available from EPAct – may allow for different methods of computing savings based on partial versus total building solutions.