The Blue-Green Alliance at Work at Lordstown, Ohio Plant

World’s Largest LED Retrofit Saves 80% For GM, Sets Positive Energy Example

By Tina Casey
Beaver County Blue via Clean Technica

July 9, 2013 – GM’s clean tech cred is pretty well established in the public eye through its popular Chevy Volt, and the company is no slouch behind the factory gates, either. At its Lordstown complex in Ohio, GM can now lay claim to the world’s largest LED retrofit project of its kind. The project involves more than 1,600 fixtures so far with another 4,000 set for installation this summer, and it has already reduced energy consumption by more than 80 percent at one factory in the complex. That’s partly because the LEDs themselves are more efficient and partly because the new fixtures incorporate some advanced energy management bells and whistles.

New GM LED lighting by ALLED (cropped) courtesy of GM.

The World’s Largest LED Retrofit

Aside from that impressive savings of more than 80 percent (which translates into about $780,000 per year), this project caught our eye because it was implemented by the Ellwood City, Pennsylvania LED specialist ALLED Lighting Systems, Inc., formerly known as Appalachian Lighting Systems.

CleanTechnica first noticed the company under its former name back in 2010, when it performed an enormous LED retrofit for Pittsburgh International Airport. At the time, it was the largest project of its kind in the US. The project was noteworthy not only due to its size but because of the company’s potential for creating new green jobs in its tiny home town.

According to ALLED president David McAnally, the GM LED retrofit project is “the world’s largest indoor LED installation with this type of built-in, fully integrated wireless control system,” so we’ll take his word for it. Overall, the Lordstown retrofit will involve six million square feet of factory space.

Speaking of bragging rights, last year GM also laid claim to being the #1 solar power user in the US automotive sector according to a survey by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
LED Retrofit With Wireless Energy Management

The completed part of the Lordstown LED retrofit project is the replacement of 1000-watt and 400-watt metal halide fixtures at the complex’s Stamping Plant. The replacement LED fixtures range from only 90 to 360 watts.

The larger part of the project will involve converting 400-watt metal halide fixtures.

The efficiency advantage of LEDs is only part of the energy savings story. ALLED has developed a wireless energy management system called ALLink®, which it bills as “the industry’s first, fully-integrated and built-in wireless control system.” In other words, each fixture comes complete with a “smart” energy management feature.

One key element of the system its ability to micromanage light levels in real time so, for example, each fixture will ramp down when its ALLink senses that enough natural light is coming through the windows.

That’s in addition to programmed adjustments related to the facility’s manufacturing schedule and task lighting, as well as adjustments that can be made on the fly.

The built-in system also has a lifecycle effect on energy consumption. For one thing it eliminates the energy related to the installation of a separate control system and IT support, which would be pretty significant in a large-scale retrofit.

Another lifecycle advantage is that each fixture monitors and reports its own maintenance issues, which among other things eliminates the energy load related to routine systemwide maintenance surveys.
GM’s Behind-the-Scenes Green Cred

In addition to the LED retrofit, GM also recently pioneered a partnership with GE in a factory efficiency project that synchronizes conveyor belts with lights, generators and other equipment.

Last year, GM teamed with the automotive tech company ABB to demonstrate a backup microgrid system using reclaimed Chevy Volt batteries.

Another interesting GM clean tech partnership that just came up is a new fuel cell collaboration with Honda, which dovetails with an existing US Army fuel cell demonstration project based on a fleet of GM fuel cell vehicles. Speaking of bragging rights (again), the Department of Defense is billing that project as the world’s largest military fleet of fuel cell vehicles.

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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