Energy Saving in a 1 Million Square Foot Engine Plant

United Energy participated in a collaborative effort to replace the original High-Intensity Discharge (“HID”) lighting system found within a 1.1-million square-foot engine manufacturing plant in Columbus, Indiana. The driving factors that moved the engine manufacturer to initiate the lighting project were direct financial gains from the net savings of the improvements, and the synergetic effort towards accomplishing the company’s global energy and greenhouse gas (“GHG”) reduction goals.

At that time, fluorescent lighting (specifically T5 high-output fluorescent lighting) was the technology of choice as LED had been found cost prohibitive. In fact, fluorescent lighting technology had been the dominant workhorse in lighting efficiency; providing energy reduction and fixture control, a feature that was not used in HID systems due to the time it takes for an HID fixture to come back on after being turned off.

Control of the lighting system by means of turning the fixtures “on” as needed would prove to have the largest potential for saving energy on this project. Operations within the plant only occurred on one shift (~8-10 hours per day) while the existing HID fixtures remained “on” 24/7. The necessity to control these lights was obvious.

The project was implemented and funded through a program that was later named “Infrastructure as a Service” or IaaS. The fluorescent lighting system would be procured, installed, owned, and maintained by a third party with no upfront capital investment needed by the engine manufacturer. In addition, the engine manufacturer would reap the energy and maintenance savings from the lighting improvements with no strings attached.

The installation of the fluorescent fixtures included occupancy control sensors on each fixture. The efficiency gains with the fluorescent system, coupled with the sensor controls reduced energy usage of the plant lighting system by 80%, or about 10,040,000 kWh annually. The improvement also resulted in a reduction in GHG emissions by 7,070 tons of CO2e annually, which is equivalent to removing 1,690 passenger vehicles from the road each year.

The facility maintenance would be reduced by $60,000 in material costs each year and free up about 870 man-hours annually. The total annual net savings after the program cost was $273,000 annually. The system cost was paid for by means of a monthly fee from the third party to the engine manufacturer. Financially, these expenses would be totally offset by the savings in electricity procurement and maintenance expenses.

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