Food Engineering
TECH FLASH

Putting some light on efficient lighting

July 9, 2012
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.