Energy Efficient Lighting Could Help Military Save Money

By Christina Munnell
As the defense budget becomes more constrained, the services are eager to cut any low hanging fruit to reap potential savings. Lutron Electronics’ lighting technologies could help the military lower energy costs, company executives said. 

With a combination of the right strategies — such as dimming control and vacancy sensing — military installations can reduce lighting energy consumption by about 60 percent, said Shaun Taylor, the company’s LEED green associate commercial experience center leader.

“That accounts for 39 percent of your overall electric usage in a typical building, and that allows you to save almost one quarter of your electric bill,” he said.

Because government facilities operate continuously, light usage is almost nonstop, Taylor said. Switching to energy-saving products is more cost effective and would make it easier for military bases to meet their energy-saving goals.

Lutron devices allow users to control lighting levels in single rooms with dimmers, switches and sensors. These technologies are also available as wireless products, making them less expensive to install in government buildings, said Andy Wakefield, the company’s director of government and original equipment manufacturer solutions.

Organizations are often forced to sacrifice the quality of their heat, water and other utilities when they are looking to conserve energy. Lutron products reduce energy without downgrading comfort, Wakefield said. 

During a demonstration of the dimming technology, the amount of energy in the lights dropped from 100 percent to 80 percent without a visible difference in the brightness of the room.

“If you can’t really tell the difference between 100 percent and 80 percent, why not just have it at 80 percent, lock that in, and save 20 percent of your lighting energy?” Taylor asked.

The company offers the Quantum Total Light Management system, which manages all lighting energy across an entire installation, rather than just a single room or floor. The system minimizes operating costs by joining individual devices together and allows facilities’ staff to monitor and control them from one central location, executives said.

Still, Wakefield said that investing in stand-alone products that target a specific room might offer a more expedient return on investment than the Quantum system if a military facility did not have the funds for a longer-term investment. 

“It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Paybacks vary greatly depending on utility rates,” he said. “Paybacks are quicker in high rate areas such as the Northeast and in California, but typically in most areas, you can achieve a payback in under five years.” 

Topics: Defense Department, DOD Budget, Energy

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