Upgrading to Efficient Lighting Options Energy Efficient Lighting Design’s Marilyn Sloane

September 8, 2014

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome to another edition of Green is Good, and we’re so honored today to have with us Marilyn Sloane. She’s the Principal of Energy Efficient Lighting Design. Welcome to Green is Good, Marilyn. MARILYN SLOANE: Thank you so much. Happy to be here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Hey, Marilyn, before we get talking about Energy Efficient Lighting Design and all the important work you’re doing there, can you share first your story and your journey leading up to becoming a principal at your company? MARILYN SLOANE: Well, I actually started out in lighting as an artist. I was doing neon art and that was back in the days back in the early ’80s and had to get serious about making a living at a point and realized lighting was a terrific place to be and that’s really how I got started in lighting and just moved from was working in Florida and Chicago, came to New York and saw lots of opportunities here and decided to stay. I’ve been here for the last 25 years. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, what year did you start Energy Efficient Lighting Design? MARILYN SLOANE: We started in ’09. I had been working in energy-efficient lighting previous to that. Had my own company with an associate and we did that for about 10 years and I decided to make a change, did a couple of other things but came back and have been doing it since ’09 especially because everyone is now talking about energy efficiency and back when we started, it was really a struggle to get people to understand and appreciate it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners out there who want to follow along as we have a nice conversation today, you can go to Marilyn’s great website. It’s a beautiful website, lots of great information there. It’s www.eeldesign.com, Energy Efficient Lighting Design.com. So, let’s talk about that. You said it was difficult to get people interested back in 2009 but now in 2014, lighting seems to be the rage and energy efficiency and saving energy seems to be really on top of everyone’s mind so can you explain if we were just meeting for the first time and for our listeners out there, why should they even consider replacing their existing lighting? Can you explain the cost benefit analysis that exists with that discussion? MARILYN SLOANE: Sure. I can give you a simple example. Everyone is familiar with a 4-foot fluorescent lamp and apartment buildings are notorious for having old T12 4-foot lamps in their basement areas, in their stairwells, in mechanical spaces, and they typically have a two-lamp fixture. That fixture consumes 72 watts and then in corridors, you’ll have those fixtures on 24/7. You can replace that fixture with a current, up-to-date, T8 fluorescent lamp with an electronic valice, one lamp, 32 watts to replace your 72-watt fixture, so you’re looking at the savings per year of about $80 per fixture and everyone is interested in saving money. I’m sure of that and this is one simple way of doing it and not only will you save money, but ConEd will give you $20 for changing that fixture to a T8, but in addition to all of that, that T12 fluorescent lamp has been discontinued by the Department of Energy as well as that valance, so you really can’t even go buy those lamps anymore, nor the valance that makes it work, so while rebates are available, it really makes sense. It’s really a no-brainer to make that change. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, you get a rebate. You’re saving money. There’s just not any reason anymore. MARILYN SLOANE: I know. You get much better lighting. The quality of the light. Even in a basement area, if you have the laundry down in the basement, it would be much nicer to walk into that basement with a T8 lamp versus a T12, but in addition to that, what the real key is turning lights off or dimming them. That’s really where you’re going to make an additional tremendous savings and in a corridor in an apartment building, those lights are always on. You can now turn them off or dim them and what we typically do in an apartment building in the corridor we’ll turn off every other light or we’ll turn off every two lights and then leave the third light partially on and the fixture has an occupancy center in it so it will go to full bright or on and once you include those savings, that really makes it even more palatable and in addition to that, you’re gonna have less maintenance because you’re not gonna have to change that light bulb as often. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, wait a second. We met through our common friend, the wonderful Tina Larson, and also through the organization that we both belong to, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, great, great organization and so I know you’re in New York City and I have listeners in the United States and around the world, so this is a really important topic because we’re talking more and more about lighting, Marilyn, than ever before on the show and we have so many guests that really have great expertise like you do on this subject matter, so let’s go back and talk about the blocking and tackling of getting people really interested and obviously, you say there’s a real compelling economic interest to do it. Now, let’s go back to how you started in terms of co-op and condo boards and how come in New York or other great cities across this country where there’s co-op and condo boards that manage the places that we live in, how come these changes aren’t happening immediately? What has been the resistance toward this change and how can we get them to move faster nowadays? MARILYN SLOANE: It is very frustrating, but I do understand there are certain buildings that I’m working with that have some major upgrades that they’re going through so they’ve had to put this project on the back burner. We’re still communicating though. They know they need to do it and they will do it as soon as we can schedule it, but there are so many other buildings that don’t move forward and I really don’t know why. The other thing is if it’s money, which very often people tell me, the Serta just came out, and this again is for the New York City and New York State area, but they just came out with some really great loan options, so there’s really hardly any reason why someone shouldn’t move forward. People are, I find, resistant to change and tend to be difficult. We just did a building out in Brooklyn where we worked with the interior designer and we implemented light fixtures in their corridors with occupancy sensors and we returned to leaving two fixtures off and leaving two fixtures just dim but it was something new. When we installed it, there were two people in the whole building that were not comfortable with that so we made a slight change on the fixture so that all the fixtures could be high level and then when they want, they can turn those two off at a later time so the point is some people are more resistant to change than others. Other than that, I can’t figure out why anyone wouldn’t move forward. There are so many benefits and we have some new energy codes here in New York that are requiring upgrades so now is a good time to do it while those are available. JOHN SHEGERIAN: And, is this true across the country? When you talk with or meet with your colleagues across the country that are lighting professionals like you are and energy professionals like you are across the country, are most states and most cities putting in the same types of requirements that New York is and the same type of rebate program so this is really a major trend? This isn’t just a fad in New York City. This is really a major trend across America and across the world really, right? MARILYN SLOANE: Absolutely. I was at a meeting yesterday the Department of Energy spoke. Several organizations from New York State spoke and they all talked about emerging technology and how they’re trying to push it even further like solar energy so absolutely, it is a really hot topic. People want to save space but not only that; we have a sustainability issue. We have one planet that we’re living on. We all need to live here and there are only so many resources and there are so many new technologies that we can benefit from. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners that just joined us, we’re so happy to have with us today Marilyn Sloane. She’s the Principal of Energy Efficient Lighting Design. To learn more about her great services or to save money and change your lighting, you can look her up at www.eeldesign.com. Marilyn, you’ve talked about the Brooklyn example and please share with our listeners a couple of different issues. You’re an energy expert. You’re a lighting professional but you work with an interior designer. Talk a little bit about the difference between what you do and what an interior designer does and also talk a little bit about when you have different client bases, whether they’re a business or a condo, and everybody’s different. Every condo association and co-op association is different and every business is different. Share with our listeners how you can make adjustments to make them happy like you said in this building, you had to adjust things to make them happy but it was all adjustable. Share a little bit of how you work with interior designers but you also make your clients happy and how everyone can be made happy with the use of technologies and things of that such. MARILYN SLOANE: Well, we bring added value to the interior designer. It’s not always a simple one for one fixture replacement. Yes, you can do it that way but there are other options that are available that will save the building more money and give them a rebate and so that’s what we focus on. We focus on the lighting, the latest technology. I find it hard myself to stay on top of what’s happening today. It’s changing almost daily. I have a fixture that we’ve been developing and in the past two months, a new product just came out that’s gonna change the way we use this fixture now so it’s really an exciting time to be in the lighting industry. We bring that extra added value to a designer, to an architect, to a property manager and that’s where we focus our energy as well, working with property managers. They have so much on their plate. We can go in and take care of all their lighting needs. We can prepare a maintenance Excel spreadsheet so that they know what they have installed in their building and they know what to replace it with. It helps to properly maintain their building so you have the right lamps in the right fixtures but just simple maintenance things. We were actually on campus at Columbia University for six years assisting the energy manager. This was in the ’90s. We converted the entire campus into energy-efficient lighting sources where we really got to appreciate the importance of maintenance and I see that so often where a designer will specify a fixture that’s hard to maintain so that’s of prime importance in what we specify, maintenance. It’s gotta be easy to maintain. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Marilyn, talk a little bit about this new wave of LEDs. Are they always the answer over fluorescents or is there still a happy medium or a mix that needs to be found? MARILYN SLOANE: LEDs are fantastic. If you have a recessed fixture and you’ve got a compact fluorescent in there, you can replace it with an LED and get a better resource, more than twice the lamp life, definitely more than twice the lamp life, and a great color but if you have a fluorescent fixture that’s in a basement area, you can replace that with a fluorescent fixture that has an occupancy sensor in it and not have to spend the additional cost for an LED lamp because that’s definitely much more money than a fluorescent and still have great energy savings and a lower cost, so LEDs aren’t the answer for everywhere. JOHN SHEGERIAN: In New York, there’s a program called A Thousand Green Supers. How do people work with their super and how do you work with the Thousand Green Supers and what does this mean for your industry and for your company specifically, Marilyn? MARILYN SLOANE: Well, it’s been great for us. That’s a part of the 32BJ program. It’s an organization. It’s a union for all the service workers here in New York City. It’s the largest union and they have a program that’s called One Thousand Green Supers. It’s promoted by Blue Book and it was teaching supers about green lighting sources, what they could do in their building to make their buildings more efficient with new lighting and subsequently, 32BJ has continued that program in offering these people green lighting and we teach it so right there with supers, with people who maintain apartment buildings and we take them to a building. Here are emergency stairs. Here’s what you typically find there and this is what you should replace it with. This is how much money you’ll save and this is the payback, which they can then discuss that with their co-op board. This is why they send these people to these organizations, to learn about new technologies so it’s a great class. It’s a great opportunity for them to see what they can implement in their building. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Marilyn, in New York City, what does California Title 24 mean and what does that mean for New York City, California Title 24? MARILYN SLOANE: Well, you know, you had asked about lighting across the country and the first thing I want to say is yes, rebates are available across the country and there is a website that you can go to and check your state and find out what rebates are available and that website is zsireusa.org and you can find out what rebates are available, but California is very aggressive about their energy savings. They’re way far ahead of the rest of the country, but what typically happens is what they do out there eventually comes this way and so it’s an opportunity to learn from what they’re doing and if it’s successful or not. They are actually dimming lights outside. They’re dimming lights in corridors. They’re dimming lights on the bicycle path. They’re really being aggressive about saving money and as I had mentioned earlier, the key to real savings is controls and turning lights off or dimming them and California is requiring bi-level lighting in emergency stairs and garages, in corridors, so they are actually implementing upgrades that we’re only discussing here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, the rebates for all our listeners across America can be found on dsireusa.org? MARILYN SLOANE: Right. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Perfect, and we’re down to the last minute-and-a-half or so. Talk a little bit about occupancy sensors and all these new apps, Marilyn, that have come out to help us save energy and so that we can control our energy and stuff like that. Are you using that as part of your program too to help people save more energy? MARILYN SLOANE: Well, in a sense, yes. We’re working with the supers and the co-op boards and management devices so that they can actually monitor how much energy they’re spending in their building and there’s no energy codes here in New York City that are requiring building to monitor the energy that they use because if you don’t measure what you use, you can’t make any changes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Well, Marilyn, we want to have you back on. You’re helping people make great changes. If you want to reach Marilyn and use her services to help you save energy and save money, go to her great company’s website, Energy Efficient Lighting Design, www.eeldesign.com. Thank you, Marilyn, for showing Green is Good listeners the light. You are a sustainability leader and truly living proof that green is good.