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CGE’s Project for Madonna University Featured in DTE Energy EnergySmarts Magazine

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CGE Energy Vision Guide

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Fall is in the air. It’s time to pull on a jacket and replace summertime activities with tailgating at football games and visits to cider mills. With the days getting shorter, it’s also time to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of outdoor lighting. That’s what Michigan’s Madonna University did in December 2016. Already committed to developing a sustainable and eco-friendly campus – and awarded Gold level LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification – the University worked with a DTE Energy Designated Trade Ally to upgrade its outdoor lighting. “From a security perspective, we needed to improve our exterior lighting and did so by replacing the lighting with energy efficient LEDs,” said Karen Sanborn, the University’s director of communications.

“We upgraded all of the University’s exterior lighting including parking lot poles, overhang lamps, wall packs and signage with LED units,” said Gary Zaplitny, vice president of field services for CGE Energy. The Brighton-based company has been helping its clients become more energy efficient since 1989.

The University took advantage of the CGE Sustain program, enabling it to implement the energy efficiency upgrades with no upfront costs and achieving an immediate positive cash flow. The monthly reduction in its energy bill will pay for the Sustain program, and excess savings are being reinvested in the campus.

“We upgraded our exterior lighting to LEDs and calculated that over a 10-year period, we’ll see a positive cash flow of over $238,000. That’s a good investment by anybody’s standard,” Sanborn added. A $14,000 rebate from DTE constitutes part of that positive cash flow.

“The LED lighting is beautiful. The previous lighting was far less effective. During the long fall and winter nights, the new lighting makes it much easier and safer to get to your car,” Sanborn added.

Like Madonna University, your business could benefit from updating its exterior lighting. “You can replace any outdoor light with an LED counterpart that provides brighter lighting and uses significantly less energy for a lower electric bill. More effective lighting is a significant safety benefit for your employees and customers and a substantial security benefit for your business, said Jerry Giampietro, sales consultant at Great Lakes Electric, a lighting distributor in Auburn Hills.

He recommends retrofitting LED fixtures to pathways, landscaping and parking lots. LED floodlights are offered as well. LED lighting delivers a quick return on investment. Incandescent bulbs and recessed lights can be easily replaced with LEDs by you or your employees. For more complex jobs, work with a DTE Designated Trade Ally. In all cases, purchase your LEDs from a distributor participating in DTE’s Commercial Lighting Instant Discount program.

“The instant discount from DTE reduces upfront cost and the time it takes to recoup your investment. The LEDs that carry the DTE rebate are DLC- or ENERGY STAR®-certified products, so you know they’ve been thoroughly tested and are the best, most efficient option. Customers who convert to LEDs often see a payback period of one to two years,” Giampietro added.

Keep in mind that paybacks often go well beyond dollars and cents. As a result of its lighting upgrade, Madonna University has reduced energy use by 60 percent. It is conserving over 3.9 million kilowatt hours of energy over a 10-year period, which is the equivalent of removing over 5.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide and planting 2,731 acres of trees — environmental benefits all of us can enjoy.

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