Many people said that I was years ahead of everyone else when it came to saving energy, but this time my presentation was too far ahead. No one at Macy*s heard or knew about LEDs and I wanted to Retro-Fit EXIT Signs that was an emergency system that could not fail. If they did, the Fire Department would levy costly fines. Yet, the facts that I determined out weighed all concerns... First, LEDs had a long history and the best that we see today was yet to come.
Nevertheless, LEDs were discovered back in 1907 by British experimenter H. J. Round at Marconi Labs. A Russian inventor named Oleg Losev made the LED in 1927. Rubin Braunstein working at Radio Corporation of America used different elements in 1957, and in 1962, Biard and Pittman of Texas Instruments developed an efficient emission of infrared light.
More importantly was the fact that at the time of my presentation, exit signs employed not one, but two various sizes of 40 watt incandescent light bulbs.This was in case one bulb failed, the second bulb would still provide guidance to the fire exits. This incandescent 40 watt bulbs did two things well, they burned out every 3 months or so and they used electricity around the clock 365 days a year.
The LED retro-fit kits for Exit Signs in North East Macy*s stores replaced the two 40 watt bulbs with a total of 4 watts of LEDs. A high-polished reflector was place in the back of the LEDs to maintain proper lumen output, (light level). The expected life of the LEDs was 60 years. Eventually Macy*s changed to new modern looking Exit Signs with LEDs built in, but for some of the old Exit Boxes still operating in the back storage rooms of a few stores, those LEDs have yet to burn out.
The numbers I presented for savings on the Macy*s electric bills, labor to change bulbs, and the cost to buy new bulbs was the catalyst that started the project in earnest. With an average of 300 Exit Boxes per store, we saw a reduction from 24,000 watts to only 1,200 watts per hour, 24/7. Payback on Macy*s investment to retro-fit all Exit Sign boxes was around 8 months!
So after being years ahead of all other corporations in saving energy and our environment, Macy*s never bragged about what they accomplished so many years ago by being one of the first to change incandescent bulbs in Exit Boxes to LEDs. This well kept secret is now revealed and credit must go to Macy*s Operation Managers who had the foresight to make a change for the better. All I did was present the facts, they made the call against the status quo of wasteful building operations.
Bill Lauto, at GoingTrueGreen.com
International Sustainability and Energy Consultant
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