The one drawback to Energy Smart Industry chairman David Houri’s proposal for installing energy-efficient lighting is that at first glance it seems too good to be true.
His company retrofits buildings with state-of-the-art LED lighting. Not only does he not charge for the lights and installation, he guarantees customers will receive money back immediately through reduction of their utility bills.
The main question one potential client had after listening to Houri’s presentation: “How does your company make its money?”
“We do it with savings,” Houri said. “You become green, you save energy, you save money. We create jobs and generate profit. It’s a win-win situation.”
The key is in a creative financing plan that is patent pending. ESI’s Green Lease Management Program is an improvement on the common performance contract that enables facility owners (mainly government) to pay for energy-related upgrades through reduced utility bills over an extended contract period, typically eight to 15 years.
With ESI’s plan, the customer pays nothing up front and is guaranteed savings immediately and throughout the contract, which can run five to 10 years. ESI collects its fee based on a percentage of the savings the facility realizes on its energy consumption.
“We are offering a positive cash-flow contract. You pay nothing in advance and get cash back in your pocket from Day One,” Houri said. “We can do this because we are not just replacing bulbs, we are doing a custom redesign of your entire lighting system, and we are using high technology to do so. Most of the time buildings are not lighted properly.”
Houri can walk into a building and immediately spot instances where energy is being wasted. ESI takes a systematic approach, analyzing a building’s lighting needs based on factors such as square footage of the area to be lighted, hours of operation and current energy use.
The retrofit is tailored to the customer’s specific needs with long-lasting, energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly LED fixtures. The lights generate virtually no heat and last significantly longer than incandescent, fluorescent and halogen bulbs, lowering air-conditioning and maintenance costs along with wattage.
Energy savings varies with the facility. But LED lights have an average life of 50,000 hours, about 50 times longer than equivalent incandescent bulbs, and require 70 to 80 percent less power. The energy-consuming ballast needed to regulate fluorescent fixtures is eliminated.
“The total energy saving is only one part of the savings that you see. The other part is through reducing maintenance and labor costs,” Houri said.
Interest in LED lighting is growing due to increased emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservations and advances in the technology. The Clinton Climate Initiative, former President Bill Clinton’s foundation, is working with the city of Los Angeles to install 140,000 LEDs in a project that is forecast to give the city an energy savings of about 40 percent and reduce carbon emissions by 40 tons per year. It is expected this will save the city $48 million and reduce carbon emissions by 197,000 tons over a seven-year period.
Several universities have undertaken LED retrofits, notably Notre Dame, which reported energy savings of 81 percent in its library.
Recognizing the potential of this burgeoning industry, Houri formed Energy Smart Industry as an offshoot of his successful Skyrise Development Group. Skyrise, based in South Florida with an international presence, develops industrial and luxury residential buildings, notably in Florida and Las Vegas.
But Houri’s background and driving interest is in advancing technology. He established himself as founder of a telecommunications distribution company in his native France before moving to Israel and creating the research and development firm ICE Telecom, with clients including major electronics firms such as Motorola.
“To come in and just change the bulbs is nothing to excite me. The idea is to come into a property that has a problem with lighting and resolve it with customized lighting. This is what I love to do,” Houri said.
Among those solutions is to use of state-of-the-art sensors such as PIR, ultrasonic motion detectors that intensify or dim the lights in a room or hallway according to traffic through the area. That cannot be done with fluorescent lights, which are not dimmable without negative effect.
Among other advantages of LEDs: They contain no hazardous mercury, cadmium or lead; operate on low-voltage current; and emit no UV or ultraviolet rays, thus not attracting bugs or dust and remaining maintenance free.
To draw a comparison, Houri holds up a 4-inch PL plug-in compact fluorescent bulb, commonly sold in home supply stores. It emits light in 360 degrees, but only half of it projects from the fixture. Houri’s LED version of the same bulb has light emitting diodes along one side, eliminating the waste of energy.
“The CFL light is 13 watts, but it’s working with a ballast that is another 5 watts, so you’re talking about 18 watts versus 4.5 to 6 with the LED,” he said.
The difference becomes even starker when you compare the LED’s richer, truer quality of light, void of annoying flicker and buzz.
“The difference is other types of lighting is mechanical, it’s based on gas in a tube or bulb. It’s going to be very difficult to improve on at this point,” Houri said. “We’re putting high-technology into creating innovative products, and it’s evolving quickly.”
Energy Smart Industry (energysmartindustry.com) can incorporate a variety of lighting panels and bulbs of various sizes into its lighting solutions, available in an array of colors. Being very small, LEDs can be easily integrated into all sorts of objects, furniture and architecture as colorful accents or hidden light sources.
“We are offering the possibility for every company and facility in America to become energy-efficient and green, to aid the environment, to save money and create jobs in their local economy, and to create a more healthy lighting environment,” Houri said.