Ernst & Young's LED retrofit saves $1 million annually in electricity costs

The project included occupancy sensors that ensure lights are off when different rooms are not in use and that take ambient light into effect.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated Aug. 8, 2012, to include investment and payback information.

Professional services company Ernst & Young has replaced the lights at its 32-floor, 650,000-square-foot headquarters in New York's Times Square with LED technology -- saving $1 million a year in the process.

The retrofit is one of the largest LED lighting retrofits yet in New York City. It will cut Ernst & Young's lighting-related energy and maintenance costs in half.

In response to reader questions, SmartPlanet requested payback and investment information for the project. After rebates, the retrofit cost Ernst & Young approximately $2 million, which was accounted for as a capital expenditure, according to a spokeswoman. That makes the payback period on the project approximately two years.

Roughly 25% of the energy used in commercial buildings comes from the lights, but Ernst & Young's retrofit -- which included occupancy sensors that control when lights are burning and when they're not -- cut the power consumption almost in in half to 2.9 million kilowatt-hours (kWHs) in electricity from 6.2 million kWhs previously.

"Reducing the carbon footprint of our office space is part of our firm-wide strategy to reduce our environmental footprint as our business grows," said Leisha John, Ernst & Young's Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability. "In fact, by the end of 2013, we plan to have a majority of our employees working in LEED and or Energy Star certified space. The completion of this lighting retrofit project in the New York office brings us one step closer to that goal, and will be part of that office’s Energy Star application."

The firm hopes to have 50 percent of its employees working in LEED certified spaces by 2013.

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