Any facility operator contemplating an energy efficient lighting project will justifiably ask questions concerning the project’s viability.   From projected demand reduction to energy cost savings and payback, plus everything in between, the operator seeks to mitigate risk, maximize returns and improve the overall lighting environment for associates and customers.

It all starts with a good audit -The single most important element to ensure that a lighting project is properly planned and executed is the facility audit. The landscape is littered with unsuccessful re-lighting projects whose roots can be traced to a poor audit.

Why Audit?

A properly executed audit not only insures accuracy in projecting demand reduction, it serves as the critical foundation for all subsequent financial analysis associated with return on investment. When equipped with an accurate audit, the engineering team can optimize a design specific to that facility. Professional, engineering-grade audits also offer a complete road map for installation, insuring proper quantities of materials, manpower and the resulting time to complete the project. Changes to any of these elements due to a less than stellar auditing effort will produce project delays and cost overruns which ultimately impact the financial analysis. Audits are a pre-requisite for all facility types – manufacturing, warehouses and distribution centers, office buildings, retail establishments and institutional facilities like schools and hospitals. Each of these environments carry unique requirements and lighting variables that only an engineering grade audit will reveal.

Preparation

Auditors are made, not born. A properly trained lighting practitioner will be steeped in knowledge of the latest lighting and control technologies, will have served as a “shadow” to a senior auditor, will have been involved in prior audit and mapping exercises and will have received detailed instruction on the steps associated with a proven auditing process. The auditor’s ability to work with the engineering team post audit is a critical skill set. In my experience, a minimum of ten prior engagements as a shadow touching all elements of the audit process would be required.

Pre-audit activities are extensive. Information gathering with the client includes a detailed assessment of project objectives, including facility usage nuances and the overall quality of lighting desired. On site personnel may be resistant, or simply busy, perhaps uninformed about the project, the process and the projected outcomes. It is essential that the auditor acts as ombudsman, serving as both project advocate and recorder of any complaints or issues raised by on site personnel. As a representative of the lighting services company, the auditor needs to dress and act in a professional manner, cognizant of his environment, any safety issues and the overall culture unique to every facility.

Using a form comprised of standard questions is the most effective way to interview facility personnel on site. The survey tool seeks to understand the environment and all criteria which may affect the type of lighting to be proposed. Items such as; hours of use for the site and the lighting, areas with too much light, areas needing more light, areas with lots of dirt, areas with wash down, hazardous locations, areas with high or low heat temperatures should all be covered by a standard pre-audit survey tool.

Other questions will affect the implementation and labor installation costs for the project. These items are time of day to work in the various locations, a place to receive and store materials, methods in place to dispose and recycle the old lighting system and other refuse, equipment on-hand that may be required to access the lighting.

Pre-audit activities serve as the foundation to the audit process and insure the project is being planned to meet all goals of the client. In addition to the completed survey tool, if you can’t answer the following questions, pre-audit activities are incomplete:

  1. Does the facility require improved quality of lighting?
  2. Are there corporate lighting standards to follow?
  3. Are the corporate lighting standards up to date with current industry standards?
  4. Is there a realistic set of payback criteria?
  5. Is there a realistic budget allocated with a confirmed approval process?

The Audit ProcessBest Practices

Many companies think the key to a successful lighting audit is an accurate fixture count.  While this is important, a quality audit begins with a comprehensive review of all appicable lighting standards and an auditor trained to insure the proposed design delivers the proper light levels for the space, including dimming or turning lights off when space is unoccupied or daylight is present.  Today, in many of our projects, more than half of the projected energy savings is derived from advanced lighting control solutions.

A step-by-step auditing process, proven, confirmed and replicable, is outlined below:

  1. Audit ToolI always smile to myself when I see the guy auditing with a yellow legal pad. Whether using a digital audit entry tool (which we use) or paper, the use of a standardized form is best. A good tool will have pre-defined fields for entry of pertinent information, insuring nothing is overlooked. A standardized tool will require the entry of location name, an ID of the luminaire type, the existing quantity and ID of existing controls. You should also be able to enter information on the existing conditions such as height and spacing of observed luminaries. This data can later be used in lighting design software to create models of proposed systems which ensure lighting quality goals are met. You will also need to be able to make notations on special conditions such as damaged luminaires, broken/yellowed lenses, mounting type, wiring descriptions, and any obstructions/hazards that an installation team would encounter during construction.
  2. Map– Using a floor map is the best way to be able to ensure you can later build the project as it was designed. Many lighting services companies only log a summary of information in order to deliver a project proposal. In order to ensure a successful project, you also need to have a clean and accurate visualization of all locations included in the proposed scope of work in order to meet expectations. A map which labels each specific location included in the scope of the work can subsequently cross reference that label to all information gathered on the audit tool. The payout of mapping comes in the installation process, enabling on-time, on-budget, on-spec execution of the project in strict accordance with the written scope of work.
  3. Photos- Taking high quality digital photos of the conditions and the luminaire types is the quickest and most accurate way to capture important elements which can be referenced during the proposal process. A good camera can also help you zoom in on name plates of high bay luminaires for important wattage and voltage information.
  4. List of tools needed
    1. Distance Measuring tools- laser and/or rolling wheels are a great help
    2. Light Meter to measure existing illuminance and uniformity levels
    3. Telescoping Inspection mirror to see into coves or other hard to reach areas
    4. Simple hand-tools to access fixture details including nameplates for the wattage, voltage, and base types (only qualified electricians should access any areas with electrical components).
    5. Staying safe focused and hydrated is important during long audits. Carry water and snack bar.
    6. A satchel or multi-pocketed vest for tools, a comfortable pair of shoes and hat if outdoors.
    7. Credentials – If the facility requires you to display a badge or visitor pass make sure it is clearly visible to everyone to ensure the employees that you are supposed to be there.
  5. List of intangibles needed to perform a great audit
    1. Training to understand the process and importance of the steps. No shortcuts!
    2. Organization skills in order to follow a proven process and record information accurately
    3. Discipline is required in order to maintain a steady pace and not fall behind in the audit.
    4. Schedule and Plan-determine when it is time to take a break or end your audit for the day. Noticing when your fatigue may be causing mistakes is an important perception.
    5. Polite persistence is needed to gain access to many locked rooms. – In many instances you will be knocking on closed doors. It is important to be polite to those you may be interrupting and persistent in obtaining the audit data.
    6. Personality and determination – You will usually be working around others and will need to interact, however too much conversation will slow you down. It is amazing how the very simple short phrase “just counting lights” can turn you invisible to 90% of those who usually want an explanation of what you are doing in their building.
    7. Persistence- Site contacts as escorts may rush you through the audit process since it could be interrupting their normal work. If you get the sense that he/she is frustrated with your thoroughness, always explain it as “the process”. Dialogue such as “I know it looks like all the fixtures are the same, however we must check and document everything including lighting panels in order to propose proper solutions.
  6. Trust but verify – Site contacts can be a wealth of information but their lighting knowledge is usually limited beyond general maintenance. Therefore, an auditor must take all information received as theory and confirm that information during the site walk. Typical misinformation:
    1. “All the light fixtures are the same.” Closely examine all fixtures to be sure. They are almost never uniform and, if installing a kit, this will become an issue
    2. “All lighting is 120 volt.” You need to verify the voltage at the nameplates or panels to be positive
    3. “We always turn off all lights at this site.” Check at night and better yet, use data loggers or metering to verify as actual usage makes a big difference when proposing sensors for savings
    4. All the lights are working and without any issues. Older systems and outdoor usually have issues and you want to ensure you document any pre-existing issues that may need attention during the install.

Summary

Accurate audits enable the engineering team to have the necessary raw data for examining potential lighting scenarios. Using advanced modeling software different options can be configured and alternative proposals can be generated which address project objectives, cost scenarios and potential return on investment.   Fifteen years ago the landscape was still dominated by old lighting technologies and 80% of the projects undertaken were simple lamp and ballast replacements. These projects were considered “low hanging fruit” as costs were mitigated and sufficient energy savings materialized to produce acceptable ROIs. Today, 80% of the projects involve re-design elements including advanced controls, substantial lighting upgrades and system/technology enhancements. While costs are higher for these more comprehensive projects, the energy savings opportunities are substantially higher. Many payback periods fall into the 2 to 4 year range, however, the application of utility and governmental incentives can dramatically reduce the payback time frame.

Working together, the auditor and the engineering team can fully explore all lighting options, including the demand reduction requirements needed to qualify for available incentives.

With the average price for a KWH of electricity hitting a July 2020 record of 13.7 cents (BLS), electricity prices are up about 5.5 percent from a year ago. Energy efficient lighting projects are here to stay.   A proven and verifiable process for conducting the audit will insure the success of these projects and contribute to a brighter future for all who follow.

 

Clint Gonzales is Director of Operations for Eco Engineering Inc., the largest independent energy efficient lighting services firm in the US. He has personally audited over 900 buildings in a 30 year career covering retail stores, distribution centers, production facilities, office buildings and university facilities. Comments and dialogue are invited at cgonzales@ecoengineering.com.

UV Lighting, Acuity Brands Lighting and Panel of Experts

Monday, October 5th at 2:15pm CST

  • Jeannine Fisher Wang, PE LC, Director Technology Solutions, Acuity Brands
  • Ron C Schimmelpfenning, Vice President Technology Solutions, Acuity Brands
  • Bernard J. Erickson, CLMC, CLEP, LC, Regional VP North East, Facility Solutions Group
  • Frank Agraz, LC, MIES, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, Eco Engineering

An in-depth overview of UVC/Germicidal lighting focusing on UV energy, differences between wavelengths, effectiveness vs exposure time, potential harm and variability. Things to be aware of when choosing a UVC/Germicidal source and practical advice provided by General Members who have been successful in these projects. The format will be 25-minute technology overview and 20-minute practical  application overview with a continuous Q&A stream throughout.

Podcast with Jim Schafer

Rhonda Courtney is the Director of ESCO Business Development at Eco Engineering. Ms. Courtney is based in Opelika, AL and joined Eco Engineering to help expand their energy efficient lighting business on a national platform.

Ms. Courtney brings over 27 years of experience in the Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) and lighting industries. Prior to joining Eco Engineering, Ms. Courtney served as Vice President of Business Development for Energy Focus and the Stones River Companies where she led ESCO market development for the public sector.  She carries strong expertise in the new technologies which characterize today’s lighting design and advanced lighting controls marketplace and has helped her clients save millions of dollars by implementing energy efficient solutions.

 

Eco Engineering, the largest independent design-build engineering firm in the US energy efficient lighting industry, announced today that it has completed a pro-bono project for the Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati, OH valued at over $40,000.

 

(February 27, 2020 Cincinnati, Ohio)  Nearly 100 Eco Engineering employees from locations across the country, including those working in the company headquarters in Cincinnati, volunteered their time to upgrade the lighting system for the Cincinnati-based Freestore Foodbank. Nearly 400 interior and exterior fixtures in the 110,000 square foot Mayerson Distribution Center were either retrofitted or fully replaced with energy efficient LED lighting technology during the all-day project. Freestore Foodbank President & CEO, Kurt Reiber stated,

 

“Eco Engineering is helping to set the tone for our region. As we look to find new ways to not only feed the lines, but also shorten them, we need the business community to continue to work with us on new ways to support our shared mission. Following what is unique to their business, Eco Engineering is helping us save over $12,000 per year by upgrading our lighting at no cost to the Freestore Foodbank. This upgrade reduces our energy costs, makes the facility safer for our employees and partners, and allows us to better support families in the region. The impact of the project is that we will be able to provide 375,000 more meals over the next ten years!”

 

Eco Engineering provides energy efficient lighting upgrade services to both Fortune 1000 firms and Energy Services Companies (ESCOs). The company has a unique profile in that they are a national engineering firm which designs innovative lighting systems to replace the existing lighting infrastructure of major facilities and installs these products and control systems to optimize energy savings. In 2019, the Company implemented more than 250 projects across 46 States, 5 Provinces of Canada, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

 

The Eco Engineering company vision is to be a force for good while valuing employees, delighting customers, supporting communities, and conserving the world’s natural resources. Tom Kirkpatrick, President and CEO of Eco Engineering said:

 

“This project upholds our values to support a community where we live and work, while providing a benefit to our environment that makes us proud. The reduction in energy consumption could be compared to planting 17 acres of trees, removing 19 cars from the road, or saving 8,427 gallons of gasoline each of the next ten years,”

 

 

About Eco Engineering, Inc.

For over 25 years, Eco Engineering has helped its customers reduce operating costs through deployment of more efficient lighting systems. Eco Engineering is a national design-build engineering firm specializing in upgrading large facilities with innovative, energy efficient lighting and lighting controls. Eco Engineering has completed thousands of projects for organizations such as Adidas Group, AT&T, Johnson Controls, and Siemens, among others. Visit www.ecoengineering.com for more information.

 

About Freestore Foodbank

The Freestore Foodbank is the largest emergency food and services provider to children and families in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. The organization distributes 33 million meals annually to low-income individuals and families. The Freestore Foodbank supports 511 community partners in 20 counties throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, including food kitchens, homeless shelters, emergency food pantries, social service centers and program sites. By providing emergency food distribution, the Freestore Foodbank responds to the issue of poverty and food insecurity in our community and provides an array of services (emergency clothing, housing services, SNAP assistance, Medicaid outreach and others) aimed at creating self-reliance. The Freestore Foodbank is a member of Feeding America. Visit www.freestorefoodbank.org for more information or to make a donation.

 

Industry expert to join Eco Engineering as Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives

 

(December 9, 2019 Cincinnati, Ohio) – Eco Engineering, the largest independent design-build engineering firm in the US energy efficient lighting industry, announced today that industry veteran Frank Agraz has joined the Company as Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and a member of its leadership team.

 

Since 1993, Frank has been active in the lighting industry in a variety of engineering and business development roles. He has worked with companies such as Amtech Lighting, MetalOptics, Honeywell, and Aqualine Resources. Frank also co-founded and served as Executive Vice President of Maneri-Agraz Enterprises, a turnkey lighting services company, for 10 years prior to its sale to OSRAM Sylvania where Frank served throughout its transformation to SLS Energy Solutions, a WESCO business. Frank has been an active member of Illuminating Engineering Society and a frequent speaker on a range of lighting design topics.

 

In his new role at Eco Engineering, Frank will be focused initially on optimizing the Company’s core processes with primary focus on its auditing and engineering processes. He will also lead the Company’s efforts in maximizing its use of tools and technology in support of its processes. Frank will continue to be a visible spokesperson on the trends and best applications of lighting technology in the marketplace.

 

“The addition of Frank Agraz is an important step in the continued plan for Eco Engineering to be a leading provider of energy efficient lighting and lighting controls services to companies in North America,” stated Tom Kirkpatrick, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eco Engineering.  “The opportunities to deploy properly designed lighting technology that also generates maximum energy savings across large facilities and exterior settings are endless.  Having Frank on the Eco Engineering leadership team strengthens our ability to deliver superior services to our customers.”

 

Eco Engineering provides energy efficient lighting services to both Fortune 1000 firms and energy service companies (ESCOs). The company has a distinctive profile in that they are an engineering and design firm which comprehensively audits the existing lighting infrastructure, designs replacement systems best suited for the facility, performs all project implementation phases including product supply, and follows EPA compliant disposal services. In addition, the firm helps clients qualify for federal, state or local utility incentives to reduce project expense and boost return-on-investment.

 

Eco Engineering completed over 135 projects in 2018 involving commercial office buildings, industrial facilities, schools, municipal buildings, retail stores, hospitals, hotels and distribution centers. The combined impact of these projects was a reduction of 85 million kilowatts of electricity per year and more than $8 million in annual energy savings for Eco Engineering customers. The company has been growing rapidly in recent years and expects continued double-digit growth as more and more businesses recognize the importance of sustainability and the huge potential for saving money on their electric bills.

 

About Eco Engineering

For more than 25 years, Eco Engineering has helped its customers reduce operating costs through increased energy savings while playing a part in preserving the environment for generations to come. Eco Engineering is a national design build engineering firm which specializes in providing energy efficient lighting and lighting controls upgrades in large facilities. Eco Engineering has completed thousands of projects for customers such as Adidas Group, AT&T, Johnson Controls, Kroger, Performance Services, Siemens among others. Visit www.ecoengineering.com for more information.

 

 

Strategic acquisition expands Eco Engineering’s expertise in the movie theatre customer segment

(April 23, 2019 Cincinnati, Ohio) – Eco Engineering, the largest independent design and build engineering firm in the US energy efficient lighting industry, announced today that it has successfully completed the acquisition of InVision Technologies, Inc, a lighting services firm headquartered in Coppell, Texas. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

InVision Technologies, Inc. was founded in 2014 to provide lighting design, upgrade services, and product supply to commercial entities across the United States. The company, under the leadership of founder Kent Hafemann, developed a deep understanding of lighting products pricing structures and global sources. This understanding, combined with Kent’s expertise in sales, design, lighting/fixture specification, project installation services, and distribution operations formed the bedrock of InVision Technologies, Inc.

Eco Engineering has executed an asset purchase agreement with InVision Technologies which includes the absorption of specific personnel and lighting contracts with customers. The acquisition gives Eco Engineering increased capacity and specialized skills to offer expanded lighting services for its customers in the Fortune 1000 commercial and industrial segment, particularly in the movie theatre and cinema market. In addition, the acquisition provides additional resources to support its growing number of projects in the Texas region.

“Eco Engineering remains committed to helping our customers reduce their energy operating costs while making a positive impact on the environment,” said Tom Kirkpatrick, Eco Engineering President and CEO. “The acquisition of InVision Technologies strengthens our ability to better serve the commercial and industrial markets.” Kirkpatrick added that “continued advances in LED lighting technology and advanced lighting control systems provide opportunities for up to 75% reduction in energy required to operate lighting systems.”

“Joining forces with Eco Engineering provides InVision Technologies customers additional capabilities,” said Kent Hafemann, CEO of InVision Technologies, who becomes Senior National Accounts Executive for Eco Engineering following the acquisition. “Our combination immediately adds increased purchasing power and expanded manpower, which translates into an even stronger value proposition going forward. With the entire InVision team now part of Eco Engineering, we look forward to having a wider and deeper ability to meet customer needs.”

Eco Engineering provides energy efficient lighting services to both Fortune 1000 firms and energy service companies (ESCOs). The company has a distinctive profile in that they are an engineering and design firm which comprehensively audits the existing lighting infrastructure, designs replacement systems best suited for the facility, performs all project implementation phases including product supply, and follows EPA compliant disposal services. In addition, the firm helps clients qualify for federal, state or local utility incentives to reduce project expense and boost return-on-investment.

Eco Engineering completed over 135 projects in 2018 involving commercial office buildings, industrial facilities, schools, municipal buildings, retail stores, hospitals, hotels and distribution centers. The combined impact of these projects was a reduction of 85 million kilowatts of electricity per year and more than $8 million in annual energy savings for Eco Engineering customers. The company has been growing rapidly in recent years and expects continued double-digit growth as more and more businesses recognize the importance of sustainability and the huge potential for saving money on their electric bills.

About Eco Engineering
For more than 25 years, Eco Engineering has helped its customers reduce operating costs through increased energy savings while playing a part in preserving the environment for generations to come. Eco Engineering is a national design build engineering firm which specializes in providing energy efficient lighting and lighting controls upgrades in large facilities. Eco Engineering has completed thousands of projects for customers such as Adidas Group, AT&T, Johnson Controls, Kroger, Performance Services, Siemens among others.

Eco Engineering wins top honors in the 100+ employee privately-held category at the 18th Annual Family & Private Business Awards
Cincinnati, Ohio – September 15, 2017 – Eco Engineering, the largest independent design and build engineering firm in the US energy efficient lighting industry, was awarded the top honor as the region’s best privately-owned company (100+ employees) at the annual Goering Center awards ceremony.

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Eco Engineering was named one of the fastest growing private companies in the Greater Cincinnati area by the Cincinnati Business Courier for the second straight year. An energy efficient lighting upgrade services provider, Eco Engineering designs, implements, and manages large scale projects for its Fortune 1000 and energy services company (ESCO) clients across North America. The Cincinnati Business Courier recognized Eco Engineering’s most recent +70% two year growth in its annual Fast 55 ranking of the firms with the greatest two year revenue increase.
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Sustained growth in the municipal, state, federal, K-12 and university market segments prompts new affiliation with national trade association

(May 3, 2017 Cincinnati, Ohio) – Eco Engineering, the largest independent design and build engineering firm in the US energy efficient lighting industry, announced today that it has joined the National Association of Energy Services Companies (NAESCO). Rhonda Courtney, Eco Engineering’s Director of ESCO Business Development, will continue as Chairperson of the Affiliate Advisory Committee for NAESCO. Read more