From coast to coast, and in every state, there is a sizable untapped market that could immediately benefit from Green electrical upgrades. The commercial and institutional retrofit market is huge. But there are often obstacles to reaping sales despite the proven cost-savings that energy-efficient lighting and lighting controls products can deliver.
One difficult obstacle can be the relatively high installation costs called for when upgrading many older buildings and facilities.
“The installation costs can be increased dramatically in an older facility,” said Tom Leonard, director of marketing for Leviton Lighting Management. “We were experts in the traditional approaches and tools, but in order to reach the highest energy efficiency levels, we must use lighting controls. And in the retrofit market there have been obstacles.”
Now, thanks to new technologies that have reduced installation costs, retrofitting older existing commercial facilities with the latest lighting controls is fast becoming a strong selling point, instead of a primary reason for a facility owner to resist upgrades.
“By utilizing a wireless and battery-free occupancy sensor system we can provide a lighting controls retrofit solution that reduces the need for installing wiring or conduit,” explained Leonard.
It’s time-consuming work to drill and run cabling through cinder block walls and concrete floors. Recently wireless lighting controls have been shown to cut installation costs to only 25% of the costs for a traditional wired solution, and wireless lighting controls can be more easily placed without the difficulties common when adding controls to an existing environment. Wireless can save 75% of the installation costs making job completion far quicker, and accelerating the payback period.
One of the forces behind establishing industry standards for wireless building controls is the EnOcean Alliance, a group of companies across North America and Europe that are promoting establishment of EnOcean wireless technology as the wireless standard for sustainable buildings.
In the April, 2008 issue of perpetuum, Markus Brehler, CEO and founder of EnOcean GmbH, discussed how wireless building control applications have turned what was once a costly deterrent to retrofitting green sales into a winning proposition.
“Cabling was always a big obstacle in the case of renovation and refit,” said Brehler. “This situation is very much improved since the introduction of self-powered wireless sensors to the EnOcean standard. Cabling (cost) is reduced by as much as 70%.”
“Now is our time to apply our expertise to save and reduce energy,” said Leonard. “We’ve had many tools available, but new solutions that eliminate sales obstacles – like wireless technology – are projected to overcome obstacles and open up virtually the entire retrofit market.”
These are amazing times we live in. It is easy to imagine the owners of tens of thousands of existing, older buildings reducing their energy consumption by embracing these new solutions. Thanks in large part to technological strides like wireless, self-powered lighting sensors, in the coming years, we can expect a flood of green retrofit activity in office parks, on campuses, within shopping malls and in the hearts of our cities’ business districts.