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Developing residential land vs. suburban sprawl: Developers talk about expansion in central PA

Green Light Special
By Jeff Harper

Jeff Harper is heading H.B. McClure Company’s commercial property Energy Auditing initiatives.  H.B. McClure is helping commercial and residential customers study their buildings’ overall energy footprints, and is supporting efforts to minimize the impact of Pennsylvania’s electric rate increases. H.B. McClure is one of Central PA’s leading mechanical contractors, providing service to the mid-state area since 1914. Jeff can be reached by phone at 717-648-0879 or by e-mail at

Did you know that lighting accounts for 37 percent of an average commercial building’s utility bill? This is the largest cost category, followed by the building’s heating and cooling systems. In recent years, industrial and commercial customers, facility managers, consultants and contractors have steadily increased their interest in the more energy-efficient fluorescent lighting solutions that greatly reduce electrical consumption. With Pennsylvania’s electric rate cap being lifted in 2010, this interest will increase exponentially.

In last fall’s Real Estate Review, Bill Gladstone introduced the idea of “sustainability” in his opening remarks. That is, sustainability as it relates to the wide-ranging area of energy savings and “green” initiatives. Sustainable means using methods, systems and materials that won’t deplete our natural resources. He presented the idea of return on investment (ROI) for current sustainable projects and the fact that the energy efficiency of installing T8 and T5 lighting is the easiest and best way to gain meaningful payback within a few years. Quite simply, changing your current inefficient lighting is the lowest hanging fruit on your “green” tree today.

A simple description of T12, T8 and T5 fluorescent lighting may be helpful at this point. The “T” stands for “tubular.” The number refers to the diameter of the lamp in 1/8” increments. The T12 lamp, for example, is 1 1/2” in diameter, or about the size of a broom handle. T12 lamps and fixtures were the standard in tubular fluorescent lighting for years. The T8 and T5 lamps are more slender, with the smaller number being more efficient. A 4-ft. T8 is 22 percent more efficient than a comparable T12 and a similar T5 achieves 51 percent added economy. They produce the same lighting output while consuming less power. It is actually possible to replace and upgrade current fixtures with fewer lamps per unit and still maintain, or even improve on, current lighting levels. T8 and T5 lamps also have longer-rated life cycles which reduce maintenance and lamp replacement costs. In terms of sustainability, that reduces waste.

T12 lighting and lamps have a limited future. Not only are they not nearly as efficient, but they also are essentially an endangered species. New energy efficiency regulations that took effect on January 1, 2009 have effectively banned the new manufacturing and sale of T12 lamps and the magnetic ballasts that power them. The net result of this legislation is that once the existing supply of T12 lamps and ballasts is exhausted, a building owner will be forced to upgrade or retrofit their lighting. Another side effect of this occurrence is that the price for the remaining supply of T12 lamps and ballasts is expected to skyrocket over the next 18–24 months.

On top of the cost savings that are realized when retrofitting obsolete lighting, there are also significant tax incentives currently available. These tax credits and deductions are offered by various local, state and federal agencies. The incentives are usually based on the overall energy savings that have been achieved by the upgrade.

In summary, if you haven’t upgraded your lighting yet, 2010 is the time to begin the process. With the T12 obsolescence, electric rates skyrocketing, and tax advantages currently in effect, now is the time to seriously consider significant lighting improvement projects.

Below is a list of T8 and T5 benefits, and a chart that quantifies the actual cost savings that are available with a retrofit.

Advantages of T8 and
T5 Fluorescent Lighting Systems
• Instant-on at nearly full brightness
• Significantly longer lamp life
• Choice of lamp/ballast systems
• Occupancy sensor compatible
• Good to excellent lumen maintenance
• Good to excellent color rendition

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