LEDs Light the way: IM retrofits over 7,000 light fixtures

Energy savings and cost reductions not the only bright spots

After operating for nearly sixty years, Iron Mountain certainly has a large portfolio of buildings that contain the full range of lighting technology. Many buildings were gained through acquisition and therefore have history that dates back several decades further still. While many older buildings have been vacated and inventory consolidated into newer modern sites, a number of solid older facilities still exist. Though every bit as secure as the newer ones, these older sites may not be as energy efficient.

In 2012 Iron Mountain joined a growing number of forward thinking organizations that formally measure and report on environmental performance in addition to financial results. Our environmental performance and key metrics can be viewed in our annual CR report and filings with the Carbon Disclosure Project (referenced in prior article). It is becoming widely acknowledged that organizations that operate sustainably and with good environmental performance also tend to outperform their peers on financial results. In this way, greenhouse gas emissions have become a measure of ‘waste’, or opportunities for improvement. The LED retrofit project is a good example of why this is and how it plays out.

The work to produce our first CDP report showed us that electricity was the largest cause of our greenhouse gas emissions, and the systems that use the most electricity are lighting. Previous lighting retrofits were limited to migrating older fluorescent fixtures to newer fluorescent technology as this was the only affordable solution. In order to make a larger leap with efficiency and ‘future proof’ the lighting for decades to come it was clear that LEDs would need to be the technical solution but it wasn’t going to be easy.

The advancements in LED are impressive and the cost continues to decline. Despite this, there was no product on the market that best fit our needs in the records center at price levels that could be deployed in large scale. The solution was to collaborate with a lighting manufacturer and a distributor to custom package parts that would fit our need. Collaboration with internal and external parties is an example of behaviors found at high performing companies that yield exceptional results.

A great deal of support was also provided internally, demonstrating teamwork across the organization. Facilities Management leadership secured the capital, local building Technicians facilitated the electrical contractors and daily Operations personnel accommodated the small business disruption while the lights were retrofitted. Demonstrating teamwork is another trait of highly effective organizations.

In the end, we found the concept that businesses focused on improving environmental results also perform well financially is true. Tests performed during the R&D phase showed over 30% reduction in electricity use compared to our old fluorescent lights. The lower electricity expense and resulting lower greenhouse gas emissions were the first results, but the benefits didn’t stop there. LEDs will also reduce facility maintenance costs. The LEDs are guaranteed for 7 years and expectations are they will run much, much longer before needing maintenance unlike the fluorescent lamps that burned out frequently. Last, and most important, the new, longer lasting lights are yielding more light output resulting in better and even safer working conditions as our team can see and perform their daily duties. Happy employees help make happy customers. Win, win, win, win…..