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Dutchland’s lighting retrofit the environmental equivalent
of planting 53 acres of trees each year

A lighting retrofit that let its electric power usage take a more slender form by some 288,249 kilowatt-hours (kWh) each year has earned for Dutchland Plastics Inc., Oostburg WI, an Environmental Stewardship Award from Orion Energy Systems of Plymouth.

The award is presented by Orion to commemorate positive environmental actions by industries that, Orion, feels do not receive enough credit for the positive environmental actions they take. The award goes to companies that reduce their energy costs and power usage significantly through changing to Orion lighting products.

All told, Dutchland replaced some 188 350- and 400-watt metal halide and 400-watt high-pressure sodium lighting fixtures with 188 Orion 227-watt Illuminators. In addition, some 142 228-watt fluorescent fixtures were replaced by 142 113-watt Illuminators. The change cut the amount of power Dutchland used for lighting by close to 50 percent.

Interestingly, the reduction totals do not include Dutchland’s brand-new 80,000 square-foot facility, which was fitted with Orion lighting at the start.

“We weren’t satisfied with what we had here,” said Engineering Director Tedd Mentink. “And we felt if it’s going to be economical, if it’s going to be better for the environment, let’s go ahead. It only makes sense. The performance is certainly better than what we had had.”

Interestingly, Mentink said that an early issue concerning the lighting change had been a perception by Dutchland employees that the new lighting was actually darker than the old.

“These (Orion) lights don’t shine upward where the old lights lit up the ceiling more and had a glass bowl. These really shine down. So it can look dark -- but if you stand underneath – you really have good light. When they came around with the meters we did increase the foot-candle readings compared to what we had before.”

“I like the fact that the lights come on instantaneously,” said Sales Director/co-owner Daven Claerbout. “The old ones were slow to light. You used to wait for them to warm up.”

Claerbout pointed to eight or ten workstations in a factory area where the ceiling was at least 25 feet overhead. “We used to have the metal halides in the ceilings, and then, maybe ten to twelve feet up, we had eight-foot regular fluorescents.”

“You’d look across the building and you had all the lights up here (ceiling) and then you saw all your work lights above the workstations. Now we have an open, clean building. We eliminated every one of those (lower lights) as well.”

“We had some concerns when we first saw the lights,” Mentink concluded. “How would they hold up in the manufacturing environment? But so far, we haven’t had any problems -- one or two here and there -- they seem to be holding up pretty well.”

The Dutchland firm was founded in the sixties by Daven’s parents, Bill and Nancy Claerbout; Daven’s brother, Carl, is also a co-owner.

The basis for the Environmental Stewardship Award is not the power reduction itself, but what that reduction will mean to the environment.

According to Federal EPA reckoning, Dutchland’s 288,249 kWh annual power reduction means that over the 20-year life of the Orion lighting fixtures, some 4,324 tons of carbon dioxide, 1,179 tons of carbon, 16 tons of sulfur dioxide and 37 tons of nitrogen oxides will not be released into the atmosphere by generation of the now-unneeded power.

The reduction is also the environmental equivalent, according to the EPA, of planting 53 trees each year or removing 41 cars from the road each year. It is also the conservation equivalent of saving 26,204 gallons of gasoline each year or 624 barrels of fuel oil.

The energy savings and beneficial environmental impact involved in the Dutchland Plastics project are made possible by the fact that Orion Illuminator fixtures ‘harvest’ light emitted from all sides of a fluorescent tube with a specially designed and highly reflective surface. This directs light wasted by conventional fixtures down to where it is usable. And, as a result, the Illuminator provides more light from far less energy than other types of fixtures.

The Illuminator is typically used with T8 full-spectrum fluorescent tubes and electronic ballasts. This lets Orion systems provide a much more natural type of light (‘full spectrum’) than older fluorescent types, and this type of light is more popular with employees in the typical workplace. Illuminators are also able to turn on and off instantly, a feature that often provides added power savings.

The Illuminator won for Orion Wisconsin’s prestigious Spirit of Ecology Award. and was a key factor in Orion’s being named Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year recently, as well. Orion was recently awarded its fourth and fifth patents for the Illuminator.

“Removing substantial quantities of electric power like this from the power grid not only benefits the environment but helps the economy as well,” said Orion president Neal Verfuerth. “This is because it tends to lessen the demand for more electric power – and that is a serious issue we all are facing.”

“We are also glad that Dutchland didn’t have to give anything up or ‘do without’ to achieve both the savings and the environmental impact. In fact, for their investment they received lower operating costs and better lighting into the bargain. All I see is “wins” in every direction.”


Plastics Molding & Fabricating
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