Wolgast Blog

What Are Design/Build Services?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Feb 24, 2021 @ 07:58 AM

DesignBuildBlogDesign/Build Construction is a project delivery method in which a building owner forges a single contract with an architectural/engineering design services and construction services. Known as the Design/Builder, the entity becomes the single-source that is responsible for designing, hiring subcontractors, coordinating the schedule and building the structure on the client’s behalf. Wolgast offers a phased approach to identifying a client’s building needs, budget, building specifications, final design, construction and warranty.

Phases Described

In Phase I – Preliminary Design, our architect meets with you to conduct a Needs Analysis and then crafts a preliminary building design to suit your needs, layout, and specifications. At this time, he or she also does regulatory checks to make sure you can build what you want on your site. Following this, your estimator will coordinate with trade contractors to set a budgetary number that you can take to your financial institution for approval. The benefit of getting this early pricing is knowing if it fits within your budget and if so, you can start the financing process sooner than traditional construction.

Moving to Phase II – Detailed Design, the architect takes the preliminary information from Phase I to create final construction-ready design documents including engineering plans for your review. The process includes several review opportunities between the client and Architect. Also, as the plans develop, the Estimator is acquiring bid coverage with trade contractors. He or she is reaching out to our vast resources of trade professionals to obtain competitive bids. This way, we will have all the lowest, qualified prices in our budget, a huge benefit of this delivery process. As the client signs off on the design (or portions of the design) and the budget, which should be expected due to Phase I pricing, the project will transfer from Design to Construction. During this transfer, a construction schedule, permits, material ordering, and sub contracts are secured and site work or demo that is approved can start. This is why Design/Build is referred to the Fast-Track to Construction another benefit to this delivery method (see our White Paper on Fast-Track to Construction).

During Phase III – Construction, your Project Manager and Project Supervisor will mobilize equipment and monitor onsite activity. The Project Supervisor will be onsite 100% of the time. He checks to make sure that appropriate materials are used and applied with accuracy and quality, safety precautions are being followed, and that the project is staying on schedule. The Project Manager monitors the progress and budget and is the liaison between client, architect, and the site.

In Phase IV – Warranty, once construction is complete, your Design/Build Construction Department will be available for another year to help with any warranty issues that could arise as you try out your new building.

In Conclusion, when it comes to Design/Build, our actions are curated to be the best performing delivery system for both cost and schedule. Over the past 70 years, Wolgast has been a highly progressive and comprehensive construction provider all throughout Michigan. Adding Wolgast as your Design/Builder and Construction Department will allow you to focus on your business – what you do best, while we focus on building - what we do best!

 

White Paper - Fast Track Construction

 

Construction of New Tech High Schools

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Feb 17, 2021 @ 01:00 PM

Meridian-Schools_newtech.jpgThe New Tech Network is designed to target disinterested students, while still reaching those who are already college bound. And it is working because their report, "2020 Impact Report", shows that New Tech High School students are 10% more likely to go onto college compared to the national average.  And added 14 new schools to their network in 2020.

The New Tech Curriculum is fairly new as it only started in the mid 90’s, but it already has proven results.  On their website, www.newtechnetwork.org, they state, “NTN schools consistently outperform national comparison groups on measures of higher order thinking skills, high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates”.  Each student is provided with a computer and the necessary tools to complete “project-based learning” as a group.  In this type of environment, students learn open collaboration and problem solving skills.  The program goal is “to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow”.  For 2020, they have had to adapt quickly and create meaningful distance-learning for students.

At the time of publishing this blog, fourteen schools in Michigan have incorporated the New Tech curriculum.  Wolgast has gained experience with constructing New Tech High Schools over the past few years.  We have provided Construction Management services for remodeling Meridian New Tech High School in Sanford, Michigan.  They became one of the earliest schools in Michigan to adopt the New Tech High School curriculum for their freshman class in 2010. Then in 2016, they hired Wolgast again to complete the necessary renovations to the existing high school to allow for the extensive wiring, networking and group spaces required for the technically focused program. The curriculum stayed with those that started it as freshmen in 2010 and then extended to all following classes.  Since 2010, we have also completed more renovations to make room for the addition of students and their space and technological needs, including updates to science labs and media centers.  Meridian is focused on getting their students "Career Ready. College Bound" according to their website. They have also converted their Junior High and Elementary schools into the New Tech Network.

The difference with remodeling or constructing a New Tech school stems from each space needing to be adaptable for multiple group work stations for a variety of situations.  A higher level of coordination is the key for the Construction Manager to oversee a smooth project and account for the necessary flexibility plus technical and data accommodations.

If you’re considering adopting this curriculum for your school, you should contact the New Tech Network; however, if you need a Construction Manager to complete the renovation to your school, call Wolgast Corporation who can apply their best practices to your project.

 

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

How Can Restaurant Brands Drive Business Thru Their Parking Lots?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Feb 16, 2021 @ 11:58 AM

side-by-side-drive-thru2Covid-19 has impacted many industries, but the restaurant industry could arguably have had the biggest impact to their operations. Especially in Michigan, with dine-in shut down longer than any other state. Most of those restaurants near our office with drive-thrus were backed up to the road before, during and following peak times. Should national restaurant brands of quick serve (QSR), fast casual, and casual dining restaurants be planning for a future with less dining-in and more business taking place in their parking lots due to societal shifts and the convenience of third-party delivery? Some brands are ramping up with multiple drive-thru windows to filter through customers even more quickly. If they don’t have space for a drive-thru or a drive-up/pick-up window, they have set up their parking lot for pick-up service or a walk up area inside the door.

According to NRN Magazine in their article, “COVID Is Forcing Restaurants to Rethink, Modernize Drive-Thru Lanes” from 10/5/20, “For decades, drive-thru lanes have been the main driver of sales at fast-food chains, generating anywhere from 60% - 70% of sales.” They were speaking specifically about QSR, but there could be value in investing in renovated or added pick-up service for many fast causal or casual dining service types.

Double or triple-drive thrus are good for filtering a lot of customers through for those restaurants that have the room and technology to organize distribution this way. Some QSRs are even considering if they need as big of dining room going forward, thinking it may be more effective to take that space to add an additional drive-thru. However, if operations aren’t set up for taking orders through a speaker, as most Casual Dining restaurants aren’t, a drive-up window for picking up orders (no on-site ordering) may be a lucrative addition and safer for servers so they aren’t trying to match a car with an order while diners without a parking spot circle the drive during busy peak times. Otherwise, labeling parking spots for pick-up distribution will set up a restaurant even when dining rooms can open back up. We don’t know how the pandemic will effect dining once it’s considered over or how much third-party delivery will continue to grow.

What is involved with creating your own drive-up or drive-thru window? We would have to consider the site, the space available, and municipal regulations to create a design and then construct. Chiptole’s CFO stated in “Chains Find Drive-Thrus Worthy Investment” article on restaurantbusinessonline.com that it costs $70,000 to invest in their drive-thrus, but they generate 10-15% higher volume at each location. For them the expense is worth the investment.

Working with a general contractor, like Wolgast, that is experienced with prep and installation of single or double-drive thrus, will help you to quickly get set-up with very little, to no, down time. Wolgast is the Premiere Restaurant Contractor in Michigan having worked with numerous national brand corporations and franchisees. There is a learning curve for a contractor who hasn’t worked with drive-thrus before. Our Director of Restaurants, Eric Schwartzly, said, “operationally, it takes some time to understand the flow through the traffic lane and picking up the food”, but we can help you figure it out. Additionally, we can help with site selection for future locations or designing added drive-thru operations to meet municipal regulations and corporate’s guidelines.

Your Turn: Restaurant Operators, between delivery service popularity and a shift toward convenience for families, could parking lots and pick up windows become as important as dining rooms? What kind of questions do you have regarding enhancing your restaurant’s parking lot delivery?

Tags: Restaurant Construction

Hail Damage Risk for School Districts and Restoration Action

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Feb 15, 2021 @ 08:00 AM

HailRoofDamageWhat do a pea, a quarter, a mothball, and a golf ball have in common? You probably guessed it, they are all used to describe sizes of hail. The bigger the diameter of hail, the bigger the damage it causes, especially for School Districts. You may wonder why a school would be worse off than most other structures, but when you consider that most Districts have a campus with multiple buildings in the same area, the cost to restore after a hail storm can add up quickly.

Additionally, hail can be an isolated incident that occurs primarily during the months of May through September, mostly when school isn’t in session. Damage to a roof has to be assessed quickly and protection applied to prevent rain waters leaking into a building and damaging more of the structure than just the roof. Plus, if it isn’t known that hail fell upon a school roof with no one there in the summer, the winter freeze and spring rains can make the damage significantly worse and more difficult from an insurance stand point.

When our school client called us in April of 2020, during the complete pandemic shutdown of schools in Michigan, to notify us that their roof had been impacted by hail, we met with them that same day to see what kind of damage they had. The golf ball sized hail had torn holes in 70% of the High School’s roof membrane. They were fortunate that only one of their school structures had been damaged.

After the adjuster of their insurance company, SETSEG, had completed their assessment of the damage, we got to work. We provided restoration services and managed the replacement of the damaged area. We assisted the School District and SETSEG to coordinate the installation of a liquid coating to seal the holes as temporary protection until the roof membrane could be replaced. The roof replacement was complete prior to the start of the school year and also involved drywall repair, acoustical ceiling replacement, installing lights and speakers, carpet cleaning and deodorizing, general cleaning and painting the ceiling.

Wolgast is a professional Construction Manager for schools throughout Michigan. We have decades of experience and know how to make school structures functional for students and teachers whether we are building new, remodeling, expanding, or restoring after a storm. In the instance of restoration, we will work with your insurance company to return your building to a pre-loss condition efficiently and correctly. Please contact us if you have building needs for your District – 800-WOLGAST.

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management, Restoration

Is There a Future in Commercial Investment Properties for You?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Jan 06, 2021 @ 09:56 AM

Warehouse-3Have you considered commercial investment properties to add to your portfolio?  On a surface level, it seems like a long-term, but easy investment that will generate ongoing income and also potentially appreciate in value the longer you own it.  For those who have capital to invest, is it the right type of investment for you?

Something new to consider, the pandemic has quickly changed the use of buildings significantly.  Office buildings and retail shops may no longer be lucrative structures to take on.  Some experts are anticipating that more workers will continue to work from home and as online shopping gains popularity, it reduces the need for brick and mortar stores.  According to fool.com1 article “Commercial Real Estate Predictions for 2021”, warehouses, life sciences and data centers are thriving going into 2021 and looking for more space, despite the pandemic.  So, there are opportunities available.  It’s best to get your financial advisor, commercial realtor, and design/builder to work with you and identify a good opportunity.

What You Need to Know?

Prior to selecting a property and submitting a purchase agreement, you’ll want to evaluate and compare your options to make an educated decision on the best potential. Each market is different and the price of a building in the city limits will be different than one of similar size on the out skirts of town, so the most common way to compare them is the Cap Rate, also known as Capitalization Rate2. You can calculate the Cap Rate by dividing the Net Operating Income by the current market rate3. The Net Operating Incoming is based on the revenues that appear on the properties income or cash flow statement less the expenses of operating the building (i.e. maintenance, utilities).

How to Add Value to the Property

Finding a lower cost property that needs updates can help you buy low and sell high.  Depending on the building grade, most commercial properties don’t require the highest quality finishes, so if you focus your updating budget to make the building more efficient with energy saving materials, automated controls and more technology, you’ll save money on operating costs and make your building more competitive.  Additionally, when it comes to warehouses, life sciences and data centers, increasing the size, adding truck docks, or cold storage or heat to a building can expand your lessee potential, and add value for appreciation.  Your design/builder can help you identify what types of updates should be made for good ROI.

Financing Help

As an added incentive, you can use the SBA 504 loan as long as you occupy 51% of an existing building purchased or 60% of a new building from the ground up. According to their website, sba.gov4, it is a requirement of the SBA 504 loan that the owner occupy part of the building they are financing, but the loan allows for purchasing more building to lease out as investment property. The SBA 504 loan offers 10% down by the purchaser, an SBA lower/fixed interest rate loan for 40% to be repaid over 20 years, and the remaining 50% is financed through a traditional bank loan.

Your Turn: Is Commercial Investment Property something that you have considered?  What have you found helpful in making your decision? What kind of questions do you have?  We'd like to hear from you in our comments link below.  Otherwise, you could contact us at 800-WOLGAST.

1 https://www.fool.com/millionacres/real-estate-investing/articles/commercial-real-estate-predictions-for-2021/

2 https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/capitalizationrate.asp

3 https://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/noi.asp

4 https://sba504.loans/sba-504-blog/sba-504-loans-for-real-estate-investment

FreeAssessment

Tags: Design/Build, Financing Construction

Certificate of Need and Your Design/Build Contractor

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 @ 03:45 PM

Ambulatory Surgery CenterUpdated 11/24/20: The controversial Certificate of Need (CON) program in Michigan is in question through several new bills that passed the Michigan Senate in February 2020.  It has yet to be decided in the House.  The debate has been ongoing and seems to be getting more and more heated with those against it arguing for an open market approach to drive down cost and those for it are claiming that the medical industry needs to be regulated to keep a high standard of care at an affordable cost.

Furthermore, as we hear in the news more often, medical groups are having difficulty securing their CON in saturated Metro Areas of Michigan because a premise of the CON has been to drive medical care to regions where there is less medical access.  A positive note is, due to regionalism and urban sprawl, there are new populated pockets where medical services are less saturated and CONs are still available.

As a Design/Builder that has been through the CON process several times with our medical group clients, we wanted to offer you some insider tips to getting through the application.  First and foremost, it’s important to build your team of CON/Design/Construction experts before you even look for your property.  Enlist your CON consultant and contractor to help you find an area that has CON capacity and also will accommodate your building/parking lot size.  Additionally, you’re architect plays a big role during the application period as you’ll need to submit schematic drawings, project narrative, site development plan and design fees, in the CON submittal package.  The contractor provides the estimated cost of the project, which is also required with the application.  And, obviously, having a CON consultant on the team provides an expert when navigating around the requirements and bringing all the necessary documentation together with accuracy, so that there are no setbacks from missing or incorrect information during the application process.  It could save you two weeks or more in your review time and provide insider know-all advantages.

When you work with Wolgast Corporation as your design/build expert, we already have an established team of architect, engineer, medical construction specialists and CON consultant that have been through the CON process together.  We’ve helped doctor groups find suitable locations with available CON credits and also with renovations, additions and new builds to help them grow their surgery centers.  Through our Design/Build construction service, we satisfy all necessary requirements to help you move through the application process as efficiently as possible.

Learn more about our Design/Build construction services below, or call Dr. Michael Shepard to discuss how we can help you expand, 800-WOLGAST. 

Design/Build  the Wolgast Way

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Design, Good for Business, Risk Management

All Things Touchless Boosts Protections for Onsite Staff

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Nov 23, 2020 @ 10:09 AM

AutomatedThrough the pandemic, business leaders have learned that the importance of making work spaces safer within a commercial, industrial or institutional building and still be functional for workers, students, patients, patrons, clients, or whoever else may cross the threshold. Now, winter is predicted to elevate the Covid-19 spread as people are spending more time indoors sharing air. Even though many Michigan businesses are still closed from the shutdown or limited because they have made it possible for their work force to force work from home, some industries can’t have their staff working from home, schools have been going between open and closed as they navigate the infection levels, and healthcare offices are still restricting their service and who can come in the building. As these entities plan for the long haul of whatever amount of time the virus is going to be inflicting us, the keys of working at the “office” are separation, clean air, and making more things “touchless” in the business space – AKA All Things Touchless.

Making All Things Touchless in a work place is a means that could be useful past the pandemic. The less that people have to touch or be near each other, the less likely the spread of germs of any kind can happen. For many that are back to the office, there is most likely a check in process where they open the door, someone interviews about health and takes temperatures, then the arriving staff member makes their way to the elevator or doors to get to their work area. This creates face-to-face interaction and touching door knobs. Installing access control, such as card readers to use with smart phones at an entrance can prevent continual touching of door handles and can record who is entering the building. Also, automating bathroom features throughout the building will reduce the need to touch shared spaces.

Jackson Control, a building security solution company, in Indianapolis, IN conducted a virtual Town Hall Meeting series in April 2020 to discuss ways to make commercial and institutional space safer. They identified that keys to improve the health of a commercial building include UV light filtration, thermal imaging, and occupant tracking. The UV light retrofitted in the duct work sanitizes the air while it circulates taking out infectious virus before it spreads through the air ducts, which is ideal for schools and restaurants. Thermal Imaging and Occupant Tracking is also good for schools where anyone with a fever can be detected within the building and tracked where they have traveled to help narrow down tracing activities, or additionally help monitor the number of people in an area where they can’t spread out to socially distanced levels. Occupants who came into the same space where the thermal camera identified an elevated body temperature can be notified to monitor for symptoms, tested, or quarantined to stop an outbreak faster. This can all be done without much interaction or need for additional staff.

Protecting a work force, or adding these safety measures to bring a work force back to work would be more efficient and convince staff, customers, students, delivery people and vendors alike with All Things Touchless. If you need direction on how to install any of these into your building, please contact us for more information - 800-WOLGAST.

Tags: Professional General Contractor, Good for Business

Fire Resistant Building Elements for Business Owners

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Oct 05, 2020 @ 02:21 PM

Forty to sixty percent of businesses that face disaster, such as a fire, never reopen according to FEMA.gov. To prepare for Fire Prevention Week the beginning of October, we have compiled information about making a business structure more fire resistant.

In 1922, the NFPA originated Fire Prevention Week was a small organizational observance. President Coolidge adopted it nationally in 1925 to be recognized every year during the week of October 9. That date coincides with The Great Chicago Fire, which happened in 1871, killing 250 people and leaving 100,000 homeless (nfpa.org).

This yearly reminder to building inhabitants whether end users or owners is a good practice to help save many lives, homes, and businesses, and we feel that knowing what causes the most fires in a commercial or industrial setting will help business owners protect themselves from hazards, see graphs.

Commercial Building Fire Causes         Industrial Building Fire Causes

Sources: nfpa.org: U.S. Structure Fires in Office Properties, Aug 2013     nfpa.org: Fires in Industrial and Manufacturing Properties, Mar 2018

For commercial buildings, the majority of fires are started while cooking, so having flame retardant materials and furniture is important in the kitchen area. It’s also important to know that intentional fires are commonly arson caused by a disgruntled person either in the bathroom or an exterior dumpster, therefore, it’s good to be aware of who is in a building when there has been an altercation, empty trash daily, install motion sensor cameras, and keep the dumpster away from the building.   Additionally, most unintentional fires are commonly started by cigarettes in the landscaping or space heaters placed against the wall. Having designated disposal units for cigarettes and a policy about the use of space heaters are great, low cost means to protect from everything going up in smoke (smokeguard.com).

Depending on the size and use of a building, a sprinkler system may be required by code. For example, an office or medical building, AKA light hazard, over 12,000 s.f. is required to be “sprinkled”, but a restaurant only needs to be 5,000 s.f. to require a sprinkler system. I interviewed Bernie with Jimco Fire Protection, Inc. about what materials building owners should use to be more fire resistant and he suggested, “Metal trusses with fire retardant sheeting is the best way to go on a roof.” By using these materials, an attic doesn’t need to be sprinkled regardless of the size even if the rest of the building needs to be. Another option that Bernie doesn’t readily recommend is instead using wood trusses and installing a dry suppression system. It may be less upfront cost, but there will be regular ongoing maintenance of the system that will likely add up to cost more and cause more risky down time. According to sciencedirect.com, other material selections good for fire protection of a building envelope (i.e. walls, ceiling, floors, columns, and roof), are heat resistant materials and/or metal choices, such as concrete, coated steel, brick and mortar, treated wood, glass, and other metals to name a few.

Also, depending on the size and use of a building, an owner may be required by code to incorporate the following into the structural design, fire curtain, a minimum number of fire alarms, emergency lights and exit signs, and a minimum number of fire extinguishers. Bernie reminded us that if adding on to a building, it could trigger the additional expense of some of these requirements.

Low cost ways to protect staff, customers and assets from fire damage include good housekeeping inside and out of the building, maintenance, having a disaster response plan, and a contingency plan. The best practice is to take the time to train staff on fire safety and how to use an extinguisher, and discuss a disaster plan with staff including where to meet outside the building to be accounted for in the event of an emergency.

I asked Bernie what was new in the fire protection industry and he said, “Sprinkler heads are the only thing changing. In the 70s there were only 4 options, now there’s an unknown number of options.” He shared that on the market are single heads that can reach 30 ft. one way and 30 ft. the other way, essentially covering entire rooms with its spray. A head of that strength of spray requires only one main line in a room, rather than using more materials to branch out with piping through the space and also needs less labor saving on cost.

Wolgast Corporation and Wolgast Restoration are in a unique position to be able to assist business owners to rebuild during a disaster. We have the insurance restoration expertise to help with clean up along with the design and construction expertise to rebuild the structure if it’s needed. In the event of an emergency call 855-WOLGAST for our 24-Hour emergency hotline, or 800-WOLGAST for other building needs.

Tags: Professional General Contractor, Restoration

Michigan Schools Making Space for Robotics

Posted by Cory Sursely on Fri, Oct 02, 2020 @ 08:57 AM

RoboticsFLAt the 2018 FIRST Robotics World Championships in Detroit, there were 601 teams from Michigan. To say that robotics is growing quickly is an understatement. Through grants, bond programs, and sponsorships, Michigan School Districts are making room on their campuses to support those teams. The makerspace, as these rooms are more broadly called, can include a robotics lab. These areas are “dependent on the size of the robotics involved”, according to Douglas Rich of spaces4learning.com in his article, Designing Robotics Labs.   “There is no difference between learning to program a demonstration robot or full-size robotics arm; so many schools choose the smaller robots to save space and money”.

Robotics is well supported by the automotive industry and other manufactuers to develop the next generation of engineers.  Subsequently, there are grants available for schools to create their robotics program and scholarships available for students through the competitions. Michigan schools are creating a space for a robotics program by either repurposing existing classroom areas, adding on space, or remodeling. Below, we discuss how some of our clients are making room for robotics.

Meridian Public Schools has an enrollment of 1,340 students and began to transform their school in 2009 to the New Tech program. At that time, an entire wing of their building was converted for the intent of collaborative education. Since then, we have remodeled more of the school for collaborative learning. They were able to do this with help from grants and a bond program, respectively. We remodeled two existing rooms into a divided makerspace and their Robotics Team Volatile Chaos Inhibitors 5203 uses it for building their robots with work tables, a white board, storage and an additional tool crib.

Flushing Community Schools has an enrollment of more than 4,000 students and they have just completed an addition/remodel to their high school through a bond program. Included in the remodel is repurposed space, approximately 400 s.f. for a robotics lab with adjacent pre-engineering classroom. The robotics lab includes ceiling pulleys, white board, work tables with under storage, and rubber flooring. The Raider Robotics Team #5561 has done well for itself with 2 banner years under their belt. Prior to this remodel, the team had been conducting their work at nearby Kettering University, now they can work together in their own space.

Swartz Creek Community Schools has approximately 3,600 students and they are presently remodeling four of their elementary schools. Each of these schools is getting approximately 1,300 s.f. of makerspace intended for collaboration or lab space for small projects. Areas will be open and able to be arranged to fit the need of a project.

We are currently in pre-construction with Whiteford Agricultural Schools, which has 750 students enrolled. Their plans include a makerspace (558 s.f.), collaboration room (200 s.f.), STEM classroom (1,245 s.f.), presentation room (253 s.f.) and tool storage space in their High School. The 6750 Whiteford Bobcats were a 2019 State Qualifier.

As you can tell, makerspace is becoming more common as hands-on application of coursework is gaining popularity. Wolgast is experienced with the construction of these areas and how to build them with quality for Michigan k-12 Robotics Teams. Dean Kamen, originator of FIRST Robotics says, “We are the only sport that every kid in school can participate in and then turn pro.” firstinspires.org

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management

Expert Says Take Advantage of Large Rebates to Convert to LED Lighting

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Sep 01, 2020 @ 02:14 PM

LED1

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are the most efficient light option on the market, and energy companies are making them more affordable for residential and commercial clients. The market cost can seem prohibitive for business owners with hundreds of bulbs to convert, despite the fact that LED lights last much longer and use significantly less energy. In 2019, 10.4% of electricity costs in the U.S. came from lighting our businesses.1   This figure has been trending downward from 38% in 2003 for commercial buildings2.

For some time now, energy companies have realized that overall energy usage would only continue to grow if users didn’t take precautions to save on energy. One way they set out to achieve this was by encouraging more LED lighting which uses “75% less energy and lasts 25x longer than incandescent lighting”3.


Rebate savings and incentives offered by the energy companies

Most energy companies across the country, including those in Michigan, are underwriting the cost of LED lights (and other energy saving measures) to help slow down the need to build costly energy plants, burn more coal, or maintain aging generators. Programs include interior and exterior lighting for businesses. It is beneficial to check with your energy company to find out what they’re offering and what qualifies for rebates.

I consulted with Standard Electric’s Lighting and Energy Program Specialist, Chelsea Wisniewski, who helps their clients with energy rebate applications. Chelsea said, “Most of these programs are actively providing large incentives at this time. We don’t know how long they’ll last. The incentives could decrease or go away eventually depending on program budgets, goals, and ever changing building codes. Clients should take advantage of these programs as soon as possible so they can receive enhanced incentives for the materials they are purchasing.”

Wolgast has been a Business Solution Trade Ally with Consumers Energy since 2013. We’ve helped our clients save money, including the largest amount for one School District that received over $125,000 to help offset the money they invested in a new heat-conserving roof, energy-efficient lightbulbs and other energy saving renovations they made to their buildings. This School District also gets to reap the benefits of future energy savings from these products, but also decreased bulb replacement costs. While schools have a large footprint and use a lot of bulbs to light their building that is used vastly throughout the day, Chelsea said, “the average dollar amount saved usually depends on how many items and what items a client is purchasing. Rebates change from anything as low as $5.50 instant savings on each bulb to possibly thousands of dollars through a prescriptive rebate”, or one that is customized for the client. She also said that it’s best to find out if your energy company has a specialist to help with the prescriptive application to make the process smoother and more efficient.


Hot Topics for Energy Saving Lighting Products or Programs

Right now, there is a “huge incentive for purchasing DLC approved exterior lighting”, according to Chelsea. You can receive “70 cents per watt reduced”. DLC stands for Design Lights Consortium and provides a list of products prequalified for energy efficiency standards. Also Chelsea shared that currently, K-12 schools that make outdoor lighting upgrades, “can account for up to 88% of product cost”.

Additionally, I spoke with Steve Ferrier of Gasser Bush, a lighting and controls company, about what is hot right now in lighting products for commercial use. He said that “OLED is newer technology available in light fixtures.” Also known as Organic Light Emitting Diode, it is the same light that illuminates your cell phone. The panels are flexible and emit beautiful light with great resolution. The down side is the OLED light is very costly, there are no rebates at this time, and also it burns faster than LED, so replacement costs will be higher. They could be useful in a luxury, display lighting situation.

In closing, if you haven’t done so already, look at your energy company’s website to find out more about their incentives and other cost saving ideas to start reducing your energy costs, today for your home or business. Or if you have any questions about lighting your building or any other energy saving ideas, feel free to contact us for guidance going forward. We have LEED Certified professionals on staff to help, too.

If you’ve found this information valuable for managing your building, please let us know.

 

1 https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/use-of-electricity.php, “Electricity Explained”, 8/28/2020.

2 https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/reports/2012/lighting/, "Trends in Lighting in Commercial Buildings", 5/17/17

3 https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting, “LED Lighting”.

 

Sustainability

Tags: Energy Savings, Good for Business