United States Cold Storage’s New Facility Reduces Lighting-Related Energy Costs to an Unprecedented Low


Customer: United States Cold Storage (USCS)
Location: Hazleton, PA
Facility Size: 8,175 m2
Operational Schedule: 24 x 7
Environment: Cold Storage Warehouse
Temperature Range: -18º to 39º F (-28º to 4º C)
Installation: New Construction
Savings: 87% lighting
Payback Period: 14.6 months
Reseller: Groom Energy Solutions
Utility Partner: PPL Corporation, a Pennsylvania-based utility

Delivers Significant Bottom-Line and Carbon Emissions Savings — 93% Less Than Conventional Lighting Alternatives; Facilitates Demand Response Program Participation

United States Cold Storage (USCS) is one of the country’s leading refrigerated storage and logistics companies, with a customer base that includes many nationally recognized American brands and international food companies. Through 34 facilities in 12 states, USCS manages 5,493 cubic meters of temperature-controlled warehouse and distribution space, employing more than 1,600 service professionals. The company’s mission — to provide highly reliable and cost-effective logistic solutions that enable customers to maintain a competitive edge — permeates the USCS culture, resulting in a relentless pursuit of better, more efficient, and sustainable solutions to everyday business challenges.

Hazelton Facility Breaks New Ground

Located 127 km southwest of New York, Hazleton, PA, is a rapidly emerging distribution hub for the logistics industry in the Northeast. To accommodate growth, USCS recently completed an 8,175 m2 addition to its Hazleton facility that clearly demonstrates the USCS team’s focus on excellence and clear understanding of energy’s role as the single largest operational expense and CO2 emissions contributor.

As part of the facility development plan, the USCS team identified lighting as a target area for energy efficiency. They stipulated a lighting solution that could:

  • Minimize per-cubic-foot energy costs, helping the management team meet or exceed ambitious company-wide efficiency and sustainability goals
  • Stand-up to the rigors of a broad range of temperature environments without loss of efficiency or negatively impacting the longevity of the light luminaire
  • Provide visibility into light usage patterns and system performance, such as workspace occupancy patterns
  • Support participation in demand-response programs
  • Validate the actual kWh use and enable future savings opportunities

Comprehensive Lighting Evaluation Produces Stellar Results

Working with Groom Energy Solutions, a leading provider of commercial and industrial energy solutions, USCS reviewed a range of energy-efficient lighting alternatives for its new addition. After carefully evaluating the alternative technologies and business cases, USCS chose to install the LED-based Intelligent Lighting System from Digital Lumens, with game-changing results. Specifically, the Hazleton facility team successfully:

  • Achieved lighting costs of just 22p/m2 per annum — 90% less than conventional solutions, which would have cost £3.01
  • Drastically cut lighting-related CO2 emissions, to less than 93% of the levels of legacy lighting alternatives
  • Virtually eliminated chiller-load costs associated with lighting-related heat transfer in temperature-controlled environments
  • Eliminated the need to budget for costly re-lamping and maintenance expenses associated with traditional solutions
  • Secured years of ongoing savings with a payback of 14.6 months


“While the potential for dramatic savings was the driver that originally sparked our interest in the Digital Lumens solution, it was the ruggedness of its design and unique data-driven approach to lighting management that tipped the scales,” said Michael Lynch, the Vice President of Engineering, United States Cold Storage. “Never before have we had this level of control and flexibility over how light is used within one of our facilities, nor the ability to fine-tune or recommission our lighting systems to meet changing business needs. It is an exponentially smarter, more efficient, and cost-effective way to manage lighting resources in large industrial environments.”

A New Equation in Lighting System Design

The Hazleton team was critically aware that the only way to conserve energy and eliminate wasted light was to turn lights OFF in unoccupied warehouse space and back ON — instantly — when needed. Until now, this posed an impossible dilemma: most light sources require significant warm-up time to reach full illumination — a problem further aggravated by refrigeration. As a result, the facility was forced to illuminate most of its space 100% of the time based on its 24×7 operating schedule.

The Intelligent Lighting System from Digital Lumens solved this problem by combining LEDs’ instant ON/OFF and full dimming characteristics with sensors and the software tools necessary to manage and control these behaviors. Suitable for new installations or as one-for-one replacements for existing legacy luminaires, these tools effectively put the management team and facility engineers firmly in control of how and when light is used, ensuring the safety and productivity of workers.

Among other capabilities, the Digital Lumens system enables the Hazleton team to manage luminaire settings through rule-based software controls in the LightRules lighting management system. The team can specify — at an individual, group, or system-wide level — dimming levels or the length of time between a space being vacated and when the luminaire either turns OFF or dims to a specified level. In addition, the system collects actionable data from each luminaire’s integrated occupancy sensor and power meter and generates detailed usage reports for planning and decision-making purposes.

By carefully eliminating wasted lighting, the average ON time per light luminaire has been reduced to 22.17%, resulting in dramatic bottom-line savings for the facility.

Setting Sights on Demand Response Participation

A point of pride within USCS facilities is the company’s participation in regional demand response programs, whereby utility companies pay large customers for reducing energy usage during peak demand periods. Known as peak load shedding, the Hazleton facility will be the first USCS location able to automatically reduce lighting-related loads by activating a pre-set, user-driven profile saved within LightRules.

Following a peak load request, for example, lights in specifically defined areas may be set to come ON at a reduced level, say 80% or 90%, for the duration of the peak load period, which still provides safe illumination levels for staff. Additionally, the time delay between a space being vacated and lights being turned OFF may be temporarily reduced, say from 60 to 30 seconds, or, dimming levels may be lowered in space directly adjacent to an occupied space, among other energy-saving measures.

Highly customizable, LightRules profiles also provide the Hazleton facility with a quick and easy method of testing, re-programming, or saving individual, group, or system-wide luminaire settings to adjust for changing business conditions, such as seasonal warehouse needs or holiday schedules.

Meeting “Best-in-Class” Sustainability Goals

For the Hazleton team, the remarkably low, 22p/m2 per annum in lighting-related energy costs represents a major accomplishment and key element in the facility’s strategy to deliver on aggressive corporate sustainability goals. Specifically, the company’s stated mission — to be ‘best-in-class’ by actively seeking out and deploying more efficient and sustainable solutions — is backed by a target 1.5% year-over-year reductions in energy use per cubic meter, the primary source of CO2 emissions.

Significantly reducing lighting-related energy use and heat transfer costs amount to a significant strategic win for the management team, resulting in lighting-related carbon emissions that are less than 93% of the levels of legacy lighting alternatives. For a company that began benchmarking CO2 emissions at all of its facilities more than five years ago, the ability to collect detailed operational data and metrics on lighting use perfectly aligns with the company’s goal to ‘support strong local management teams with the tools they need to continuously improve operational performance through the ongoing measurement, documentation, and sharing of key benchmark data.’

Today, energy efficiency is deeply rooted in the corporate culture at USCS and the Intelligent Lighting System from Digital Lumens is playing its part in enabling the Hazleton team to continue to meet or exceed its target year-over-year reductions while driving future energy efficiency improvements and operational gains.

Best-in-Class Facility Ups the Ante

The aggressive pursuit of energy savings at the USCS Hazleton facility has resulted in what once seemed impossible — better, higher-quality light at less than 1/10th the energy cost associated with traditional lighting systems. In the process, the advanced LED lighting installation substantially contributed to the company’s overall sustainability goals by reducing its lighting-related carbon footprint by more than 93% in the new addition, while gaining a level of control over its lighting system that promises years of additional savings.