How Badger Meter cut its lighting bill in half

Milwaukee Business Journal


Badger Meter Inc., which makes flow measurement and control products, said it slashed its energy costs for lighting by 50 percent by changing from fluorescent to LED lights -- 8,500 of them at its 315,000-square-foot manufacturing and office facility in Brown Deer.

LED lights last five times longer than fluorescent lights and 30 times longer than halogen bulbs. And with more than 10,000 lights in the Brown Deer facility alone, facilities manager Brian Rogers saw an opportunity.

Rogers said his job is to help keep costs down, but also to help keep jobs here.

"Our company has options to manufacture products anywhere," he said. "So if Milwaukee becomes not cost competitive, we can probably make these products somewhere else."

The company spends $1 million annually on electricity, which includes running all of the machines and everything in the building. But the actual lighting cost savings was $200,000 per year. All told, the total cost of the project was $677,000, which offered a return on investment in 18 months. The company also received a $108,000 Focus on Energy grant and a $189,000 tax incentive to help offset the cost of the project.

"We were spending about $60,000 to $70,000 per year on labor to pay someone just to replace the lights," Rogers said.

With a considerable amount of the project done, Rogers said the company has about 10,000 lights in the facility and with 8,500 changed, there is still work to be done.

The No. 1 goal in the project was to maintain or increase the lighting quality throughout the building, and the company also looked at energy savings and total cost of ownership. The project didn't happen overnight — the company spent two years assessing the lighting it had, looking at various vendors, testing and implementing the project. The project included re-wiring, putting in motion sensors and replacing the fluorescent lights with LED lights.

Badger Meter used Sustainable Solutions LED, a consulting firm in Chicago, to help with the retrofit. William Ryan, chief executive officer of Sustainable Solutions, said the key throughout the retrofit was its relationship with Badger Meter, which included extensive testing throughout the facility.

Ryan said companies are increasingly becoming more interested in LED lighting.

"We work hard to balance the challenges and operational realities of each customer to develop a customized solution that helps them reach their energy efficiency and cost-savings objectives," Ryan said. "We are very pleased that we were able to help Badger Meter achieve its goals."

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