Global Accounting Firm Does The Math, Installs LEDs

Sure, making the move to more energy efficient lighting can save money at home. But the real pay dirt on simple green steps such as this is in the commercial sector. The headquarters of the global tax firm Ernst & Young in New York City is the case in point: its recent lighting retrofit project is expected to save the firm the firm a cool 2.9 million kilowatt-hours on an annual basis, to the tune of $1 million in savings.

Ernst & Young’s 650,000-square-foot Times Square office building — home to around 5,800 employees — used to suck up approximately 6.2 million kilowatt-hours each year. By switching out ye olde traditional lighting system for energy efficient fixtures and bulbs, including LEDs, the firm cut that number by 54 percent, while improving the general quality of light in its office spaces. This energy efficient lighting retrofit — believed to be one of New York City’s largest — is expected to reduce the firm’s lighting-related maintenance costs as well.


image via Shutterstock

Retrofits at this scale require more than simply switching out bulbs, so Ernst & Young tapped JAS consulting to work with Philips Lightolier Energy Service Group and One Lux Studio on tailoring the project. The team worked together to design customized LED fixtures, assess lighting control systems and coordinate with the local labor union to get the job done. As a result, energy efficient lighting systems were installed across the building’s open office areas, private offices, conference rooms and common areas with minimal disruption to the work day.

This retrofit is one of a number of energy conservation strategies Ernst & Young plans to put into play as it grows, particularly with regard to its offices. The firm’s goal is to have 50 percent of its employees working in LEED-certified spaces by 2013.  It’s also focused on offering more shared workspaces for employees, thereby reducing the firm’s physical space requirements. As of 2011, the organization became the first accounting and professional services organization to earned the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rating.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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