Manufacturing News / Sustainability

Putting some light on efficient lighting

Old lighting
Part of Stewart’s Shops cooler shows older, inefficient fluorescent lighting. Source: SmartWatt.

No matter the size of a facility, if it’s still using the same lighting it was 10, 20 or more years ago, changing the lighting system represents an opportunity to save energy costs and, most likely, maintenance as well. Two examples follow.

Stewart’s Shops, a family- and employee-owned chain of convenience stores in upstate New York, is saving nearly $78,000 per year in lighting costs after a lighting retrofit installed at its corporate headquarters and distribution center in Saratoga Springs, NY. The project was completed by SmartWatt Energy, an Albany, NY energy-efficiency firm. According to SmartWatt, the project will pay for itself in 16 months.

The energy-efficiency company conducted a construction-grade energy audit, including offices, loading docks, laboratories, storage and freezer space. Then it engineered a plan to replace the existing lighting system with energy-efficient T-8 and T-5 fluorescent lighting in most of the spaces, as well as installing LED lighting in all of the freezer space.

“The ice cream freezer was the latest phase in a larger energy-efficiency project we’ve been working on with SmartWatt Energy for the last couple of years,” says Gary Drake, Stewart’s Shops president. “We appreciate their ability to help us reduce costs while helping us to achieve ambitious sustainability goals. Their execution was flawless—clearly cold storage projects are their specialty.”

Ray Schweigert opened a small, cured-meat shop in North Minneapolis 75 years ago, with his sights set on becoming the top meat purveyor in town. Three years later, Schweigert achieved that goal, and his legacy survives today in the form of regional favorites ranging from summer sausage and bologna to sliced lunch meats and turkey wieners.

Cargill, owner since 2008 of the Albert Lea, MN facility where Schweigert makes its meat products, recently invested approximately $300,000 to install energy-efficient lighting throughout the plant. In addition to improving workplace safety, lighting system reliability has improved due to new fixtures and bulbs, maintenance has been reduced and more than 765,000 kilowatts of electric energy are being saved annually. Cargill collaborated with Alliant Energy Corporation to ensure the economic viability of the project.   

“An investment in new lighting equipment demonstrates Cargill’s commitment to this facility, as well as to the more than 300 people who work here and the community Schweigert calls home,” says Maria Wedel, facility general manager. “We’re always looking for ways we can improve our environmental footprint through changes as simple as installing new lighting technology, including fixtures and bulbs. As energy costs continue to increase over time, we believe investments such as this are right for the environment; right for our efforts to ensure abundant, safe, nutritious and affordable food to Americans, especially Minnesotans who enjoy Schweigert products; and right for Cargill.”

Since acquiring the Albert Lea facility, Cargill has invested nearly $15 million in the plant, including food safety technology, ovens, freezers and other capital improvements. The plant has reduced energy use by 11 percent during that period, as well as reducing landfill waste by initiating a cardboard and paper recycling program.

For more information, visit SmartWatt’s website and/or Alliant Energy Corporation.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.