Author Archives: Stacy Wallace

Case Study: Stronghold Camp & Retreat

Dr. Danny Pierce had a simple four-word expression of his multi-faceted vision for Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center in Oregon, Illinois: Active, Green and Growing.  This Presbyterian ministry would be active in the community, active and growing in their faith, and care for the environment more than ever before.  To make the green part of the vision a reality, Pierce chose to work with Thayer Lighting to create a more energy efficient facility.

The Stronghold Center was once the home of a Chicago newspaper publisher and his family, and was built to resemble a castle from Tudor-era Britain, complete with chapel, great hall, and even a secret passage. The castle was purchased by the Presbyterian church in 1962 to serve as a summer camp, which Pierce says is “still the heartbeat of Stronghold.” Summer camp programs for school age children, family camp and grandparent camp are conducted throughout the summer. Over the decades, the grounds have expanded to 360 acres, and Stronghold now functions as a year-round venue for conferences, retreats, and camping, and hosts an annual Olde English Faire. More than 10,000 people visit the camp annually.

Two years ago, Presbyterian churches began collecting and donating LED bulbs as part of a Light Up Stronghold campaign. The next step would be to replace the lighting technology throughout the camp, including the lights in seven residential buildings. Pierce and his team reached out to Elevate Energy in Chicago, a green consulting group that assists non-profit organizations. After conducting a property assessment, the experts at Elevate recommended Thayer Lighting as the primary contractor for the retrofit.

In addition to providing and installing new lighting, the Thayer team assisted with the process of securing rebates and other funding from ComEd. “Patti Thayer was simply fantastic when it came to putting together a clear proposal and all the paperwork,” Pierce said. Rebate and credit funding from ComEd and other sources secured during this process covered $30,000 of the retrofit cost.

With funding secured and a plan in place, the installation process began in August and September of this year. A dedicated project manager oversaw the retrofit, and a technician worked onsite at Stronghold for three weeks.

Now that Stronghold’s lighting has gone 100% green, Pierce expects the investment to pay for itself in only 18 months. “I just can’t give Patti and her team enough credit for how well they handled this and the great results they produced. They’ve helped us become better stewards, the cost savings is just icing on the cake.”

Natural and Adjustable Lighting in Your Manufacturing Facility

It can be argued that there is no business where the margins matter more to success than in manufacturing.  Any drag on productivity hits directly at the profit you make on each manufactured piece.  Since you may be competing with overseas firms that pay their workforce a fraction on what you pay yours, you might already be starting at a disadvantage on expenses.

If your workforce is at its highest productivity, your company will be at its highest profitability. And as we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, lighting has a great effect on the wellbeing of workers. Let’s review why certain lighting has this effect, and how you can leverage it for your benefit and theirs.

The Right Lighting Increases Productivity and Wellbeing

In manufacturing—especially if you’re running a multi-shift operation—keeping workers alert and productive is crucial, but also a challenge. No one can really afford sleepy workers, and workers can’t afford to be less than sharp around manufacturing machinery.

Our alertness and productivity is related to the circadian rhythm, which governs our waking and sleeping cycles and is tied to the frequencies found in daylight. When humans are exposed during their workday to either natural daylight or lighting that mimics it, they are more alert, tend to sleep better, and are more productive. As little as 15 minutes of natural light exposure causes the body to release endorphins, and a study by the World Green Building Council found that natural daylight increased worker productivity by 18%.

The right lighting also reduces eye strain, and the headaches, minor medical issues and production mistakes that result from it.

Finding the Right Color

It’s a simple matter to bring natural daylight into your space via skylights and windows. If you’re in a situation where you’re renovating or constructing a new facility, add as many windows as possible. But how do we add “daylight” to the workspace in non-daylight hours? LED lighting is the best choice, because it uses far less power than incandescent lighting, lasts far longer, and keeps the same brightness and color throughout its life.

LED’s which can have a color temperature of 6500°K is a perfect match for daylight, but Cool White (4000 to 5000K) is available in more lighting options and has a similar effect on circadian rhythms. Daylight contains bluer wavelengths, and so do cool light types.

Even better, Cool White is the best color for detail work, so it will not only increase alertness and reduce eyestrain, but it will also reduce the number of mistakes since workers can see more clearly. Both the main lighting and task lighting in your facility should also be Cool White.

Adjusting Brightness

Dimming Systems can be complicated and expensive. We don’t frequently recommend them unless renovating or there is a higher budget.  A dimming system can help control and adjust the brightness of your lighting system based on the amount of natural light that is present. This will ensure that at any time of day or night, your workers are working in light that helps keep them alert but reduces the amount you spend on electricity during the day.