Spira realized that what worked in dining rooms could be applied to entire buildings, banquet halls and monuments. Lighting makes up a bigger share of energy costs in commercial buildings than in homes, so he developed products to dim fluorescent lights.
Spira recalled reading a news article in the 1960s in which a Middle East leader complained that Arab nations weren’t getting enough money for oil. Gasoline prices were about 25 cents a gallon at the time.
“I could see that oil would become more precious and energy would become more precious,” Spira said.
Products initially marketed for their aesthetic appeal could also be sold for their energy conservation. Once again, Spira was well ahead of his time.
Despite the energy savings offered by light controls, most buildings don’t have them. Only 14 percent of residential and 30 percent of commercial buildings have dimmers, motion sensors or other technology to reduce electric costs associated with lighting, according to a January report by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Lutron has made energy efficiency upgrades easier and less costly to accomplish in existing buildings by embracing wireless technology. Wireless occupancy sensors can control lights in rooms without having to poke holes in walls and run wires. That reduces installation costs and the length of time it takes upgrades to pay for themselves through energy savings.
Those wireless products helped Lutron win a contract earlier this year to supply light controls throughout the Empire State Building. The multiyear project, part of a $550 million restoration, will put motion sensors, daylight sensors and light fixtures throughout the 103-story building.
Without the need to run wires, each floor can be done in one week instead of one month, according to Lutron.
The project is expected to reduce energy consumption for lights in the building by more than 60 percent, so the building’s owner will recover installation costs through energy savings in less than three years.
Homeowners also have become more energy-conscious, which has helped keep demand for Lutron products high despite the housing downturn, said Glen Hill, president of Current Concepts, a Coopersburg company that has done business with Lutron for 15 years.<< previous 1 2 3 4 next >>