GreenStar’s LEDs: an illuminating way to give back to San Antonio

cps energy logoWhen Paul Duran started GreenStar in a small warehouse in Boerne in 2009, he was trying to solve the heating problem created by traditional incandescent lights in the electric refrigerated truck bodies he was manufacturing.

LED lights, he knew, created as much illumination as traditional bulbs, but with the ability to dissipate heat , while using a third of the power.

With traditional bulbs, “you basically heat up a piece of metal so hot it emits light,” said Gabriel Senior, GreenStar’s vice-president of sales and marketing. “With LEDs, you’re exciting electrons, and that emits light. It’s a huge paradigm shift in lighting technology.”

Just five short years after the company began, GreenStar is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Lighting and Technologies, with its Americas headquarters in San Antonio and selling to municipalities and commercial businesses worldwide — and it’s just recently installed its 50,000th LED light.

Of those, more than 14,000 are now illuminating many of San Antonio’s main thoroughfares, as part of a deal between CPS Energy, GreenStar and the city of San Antonio. The company was one of CPS Energy’s first New Energy Economy partners.

When the upgrade is complete this summer, 25,000 LED streetlights will offer San Antonio drivers brighter, more natural looking and more direct, not to mention longer-lasting illumination of city streets — and use 60 to 70 percent less energy to do so.

Together, the 50,000 lights installed worldwide thus far by GreenStar have saved 10 megawatts of power, according to the company. Annually, that’s 47,000 megawatt hours of power not needed.

LED Lighting-29Since the cleanest energy is that which isn’t used, not generating that 10 MW has avoided spewing 74 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year into the air. That’s the equivalent of getting more than 6,500 cars off the road.

Customers who’ve installed those lights are enjoying the financial benefits, too. GreenStar estimates that together they’ve saved $4 million in energy costs, plus another $2 million in avoided maintenance costs, since GreenStar’s LED lights can last for more than a decade.

LED Lights Greenstar-27And they’re being manufactured right here in San Antonio, employing more than 40 people — almost double the company’s workforce from just a year ago. A giant “We’re Hiring” banner hangs over the entrance to the modular manufacturing site on the city’s far West Side.

“We’re hiring for assembly, warehouse and quality assurance roles on two shifts,” said Tom Wright, vice-president of operations. He said the company manufacturing strategy allows it to quickly and easily increase its production capacity based on customer needs.

Research and development is now headquartered in New Delhi, and employs another 40 or so there.

And while components and parts come from all over the world, GreenStar sources locally whenever it can, said Wright.

“We’ve calculated that about 20-25 percent of what we spend stays right here in San Antonio,” he said, “hundreds and thousands going to other small businesses here each year — and that’s not including payroll.”

The company has made giving back part of its ethos; as part of its deal with CPS Energy, GreenStar agreed to contribute $10 to the University of Texas’ College of Engineering for every light fixture the firm sold to the city.

“This green economy is a new business and we need to teach our kids what it is all about,” Paul Duran told the UTSA publication Giving in the summer of 2012, noting that none of the 14 engineers on his staff at the time were from San Antonio.

The money was used to endow the GreenStar Energy Engineering Professorship in the College of Engineering — the college’s first energy-related endowed professorship.

“It’s just another example of how the new energy economy is coming into play here in San Antonio,” said Wright. “GreenStar is extremely proud of its economic and environmental contributions to not only San Antonio, but the world thus far — and is looking forward to continued growth and a very bright future.”

This story originally appeared in Energized, CPS Energy’s blog.

Did you know spending money on new lighting can actually make you money?

TritonThanks to advanced lighting technologies such as LED technology, there has never been a better time to upgrade your facility or building and get it paid for by using other people’s money and the power of leverage while potentially putting cash in your company’s pocket immediately. High-efficiency upgrades can save your business lots of money while improving the light quality and output in your buildings. Businesses both large and small are eligible for commercial lighting rebates regardless of the size of the upgrade … up to 40% in rebates in many cases! When the project is financed, the savings should more than cover the payments with some cash left over compared to what was budgeted for those higher energy bills. Lighting upgrades and retrofits present the easiest opportunities for organizations to make dramatic, long-lasting improvements in efficiency, especially during these times of fiscal uncertainty. Energy cost reductions make huge differences in a company’s bottom line. After payroll, energy is part of the largest operating costs for most business operations.

According to North Chamber member, Dr. Edward Sakiewicz, President & Managing Partner of Triton Energy Solutions, “Lighting expenses account for at least 43% of a company’s energy expenses. It is our job to educate decision makers about the government incentives that are now available that will not only help reduce their energy consumption, but motivate them to get their projects done now while incentives and rebates are still available. It’s all about illumi­nating their businesses and their bottom line.” So if you could have an opportunity to retrofit and/or upgrade your lighting system for $50,000.00, for example, then get 40% back through rebates, then add in tax incentives where applicable, while saving anywhere from 50%-80% on your monthly energy bill, is that a financial no-brainer, or what?

Companies today are getting more and more pressure to become more sustainable and green-conscious by adopting more energy-efficient methods of operating their enterprises. Triton Energy So­lutions predicts new standards will continue to be raised, but warns that available rebates and other incentives are significantly decreasing every year. In fact, the signs are already here where locally, rebates were up to 75% on lighting just a couple of years ago. Now, in 2013, it has dropped significantly to 40% or less. Jennyfer Sakiewicz, Chief Operating Officer & Managing Partner states, “We’re committed to keeping abreast of those standards so that we can educate and alert our customers to these facts and lead the marketplace with the best products, systems and services available”.

So don’t wait …get your rebate! Call Triton Energy Solutions today for a FREE, no-obligation energy audit at 210/735-4866 and let us illuminate your bottom line.