"Bright" Improvements with Commercial Customer

"Bright" Improvements with Commercial Customer

January 27, 2016

Pitt County is chock full of unique businesses and industries of all shapes and sizes. In fact, GUC's commercial account list takes the cake with diversity from boat builders and pharmaceuticals to metal extractors and hammock makers. One such company, Practicon, offers unique, high-end dental supplies on a local, national and international level. Practicon's management team recently decided to tackle some changes, and they contacted GUC for assistance.

Imagine coming into work, flipping the light switch, and waiting a few minutes for the lights to come on. This was the scenario faced by employees in the warehouse of Practicon — until now. In early 2015, Practicon began a building efficiency initiative and contacted GUC's Energy Services Officer Jonathan Sergeant for an energy audit on their warehouse.

"Jonathan was so helpful to me and my husband during our home energy audit, that I asked him to come to Practicon," said Chikako Massey, Practicon's director of New Business Development.

The first major change the company made, based on some of Jonathan's suggestions, was to switch from 400 watt metal halide lightbulbs to 84 watt LEDs (Light-Emitting Diode) in the warehouse. The benefits to this type of change include less maintenance on the bulbs (each bulb should last approximately 15 years); better "task lighting" for employees; instant-on bulbs; and no heat generated by the bulbs.

Marty Baker, Practicon's Distribution Center manager, immediately noticed one huge benefit.

"The air conditioning is not running as much as it used to," he told during our photo shoot in the summer of 2015. "When we estimated that we could save around $11,226 a year by switching to LED bulbs in the warehouse, we had not even thought about saving money on air conditioning usage. So we're looking forward to seeing what our actual savings will be."

The company has since expanded its initial plan to include changing out the type of lighting used in the office building. And they didn't stop there.

"We found incredible federal and state tax incentives on not only the light fixture upgrades, but for solar panel installation as well," said Mrs. Massey. "So when we started the light switch process and immediately saw a few benefits, we decided to bite the bullet and go all the way by installing solar panels."

Practicon President Scott Griffin has welcomed the major upgrades and considers the investment in solar panels and the LED lighting a matter of fiscal responsibility.

"What we've done with the solar panels and the lighting makes good financial sense," Mr. Griffin said. "This (installing solar panels and LED lighting) has significantly reduced our energy usage. With government incentives to help offset costs, the systems we installed have not been extremely expensive. The return on investment is huge.