NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Cascade School Supplies took a step toward sustainability by upgrading lighting dating from the 1960s to modern LEDs
"The lighting of our building had been highlighted as a concern by our employees," Vice President Todd Shafer said. "Once we learned of the environmental impacts of the project it became, not just necessary, but a very exciting prospect. Our management team didn't have to discuss the project for long because it was so compelling from the standpoints of economics, employee satisfaction and positive environmental impact. We knew we wanted to move forward as soon as possible."
Shafer said the antiquated lighting has been on management's mind for some time now. He said the last major upgrade was in the 1960s
"The lighting in our four-story warehouse with a full functioning basement was approaching a dangerously dim level. Even worse, it was creating a very dank, uninviting atmosphere for our staff," Shafer said. "We wanted to improve the lighting in the warehouse for our valued employees. To give the easy answer, it's like night and day. It really is though. Some areas of our building were very dimly lit, if at all, and even the areas that were lit were pretty dim."
Last year, Cascade partnered with Energy Source, an energy solutions provider, to undergo a lighting overhaul. Cascade was assigned an energy efficiency consultant, Walt Pazderski. Pazderski assessed the building and worked with the Cascade management to determine what they wanted out of the program.
Shafer said once they agreed on a plan, Energy Source took over.
"Other than keeping us in the loop on the progress once the installation started, we needed to do very little," he said.
Shafer said refitting the turn-of-the-last-century warehouse did come with a few challenges. With a mixture of office and warehouse space, different employees needed different lighting.
"We have a mix of offices and open architecture workspaces. Within the open space we have a mix of cubicles and open stretches of room with several desks in proximity," he said. "To further add to the complexity, some of our staff are situated near windows providing brilliant southern daylight exposure. Other desks are in rooms with no direct window access."
Cascade has tried to make lighting improvements over the years but never to this extent. This has resulted in combining many dissimilar lighting environments on one switched circuit.
"Simply turning off a switch is not an option," he said. "This had caused some of our staff to remove lamps from fixtures, others to bring supplementary illumination from home, and still others to try and move their desks or create shields."
Shafer said Energy Source met the challenge. Its workers went through the building and installed new fixtures with controls and used more natural light by taking advantage of daylight harvesting.
The entire project was completed in a few months.
"The entire building is now very well illuminated. The space is much brighter. The staff is much happier," Shafer said. "The installation process was smooth and only took a few weeks. We made some small lighting adjustments in the later months of 2020 and things have been going along brightly ever since."
Project incentives through the National Grid Small business program cut the total cost of the project by 88.5 percent. Cascade invested about $12,787 into the project that is anticipated to be made up through savings in 4.8 months.
The conversion is anticipated to save $31,385 annually. On the energy side, this translates to 113,872 KWH annual savings and a 58 percent energy reduction at Cascade.
Cascade has reduced emissions by over 160,000 pounds of CO 2 annually. This is the equivalent of:
1. 77,000 pounds of carbon not burned into the atmosphere each year
2. 174,000 miles not driven in a standard car each year
3. 8,000 gallons of gasoline combustion fumes not emitted into the atmosphere each year
4. 1,160 trees planted each year
5. 8,900,000 cell phones being charged each year
6. 2,600 incandescent lights converted to resource-saving LED lights each year
These savings will be reported to Mass Save. They will become part of the total reduction reported to the federal government for the next 10 years.
Shafer said the success of the project prompted the company to take on a similar project at its Clarksburg location.
"We hope we are leading by example. I would encourage other businesses to look into energy-efficient lighting as well as other projects that will have a positive impact on our environment," Shafer said. "We are all in this together and we should be making an effort to leave the world a better place than how we found it. I think businesses may be surprised that often these projects will not only have a positive impact on the environment but also on their bottom line."
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Say goodbye to this burst of spring — Mother Nature prefers a little chaos in her work.
The warm temperatures of Wednesday are about to plummet as a snowstorm — yes a snowstorm — bears down on the Berkshires.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Pittsfield north and parts of Southern Vermont beginning Thursday evening through Friday night. Total accumulations could reach 6 inches in the higher elevations.
Accuweather is forecasting up to 10 inches with rain all day Thursday and temperatures dipping into the 40s. Thursday night will temperatures dropping into the 30s.
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