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In the early 1990s, Daniel Gould saw an opportunity to provide energy and lighting consulting services to help organizations cost-effectively reduce electrical and operating costs while dramatically improving the lighting in their facilities. He founded Synergy in 1994 and by focusing on aesthetics, effectiveness, and energy efficiency, has built a company with a reputation for quality service and installations
Synergy provides lighting retrofit audit, design and project management services. Synergy has been recognized twice by Inc. magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the country.
MO: How has Synergy and the lighting industry in general, evolved since you first launched back in 1994?
Dan: There is a great symbiotic relationship between Synergy and the innovators within the lighting industry. As new concepts or technologies emerge, we investigate them and then bring the best ideas to our various clients. When we started in 1994, there was a great opportunity in the retail market to improve the quality of lighting while also saving money. Improved color rendering and increased light levels were the result. After about five years, that well ran dry and a new market emerged for replacing high bay fixtures inside of warehouses and plants.
We then migrated into complicated manufacturing plants which led to our “Business-Driven Lighting” (BDL) strategy. BDL is more of a “program” approach to lighting retrofits where we help the Fortune 500 develop and implement a long-term, strategic lighting plan. This includes updating light level standards, prioritizing all sites based on electric rates, rebates, size, buildings owned versus leased, etc., and changing the corporate paradigm from lighting being a local issue to a strategic corporate concern.
In recent years, there have been great developments in LED lighting for interior and exterior applications as well as wireless control systems that can shut off lights when not needed without affecting production or safety.
In some applications, we can remove 90% of the lighting electrical load!
MO: How can lighting help improve your client’s business? Can you share any lighting tips or techniques that our readers could implement on their own?
Dan: Our goal is to eliminate all wasteful lighting which is lighting being used when it is not needed or over-lit for the specific task. With the various control strategies now available, there are new opportunities to be more aggressive with controls without sacrificing quality. However, as simple as lighting may seem, there devil is in the details. The wrong lamp, ballast, control strategy or application can have a negative impact on lamp life. We see obvious mistakes daily due to a lack of in-depth knowledge of the details.
MO: Can you talk about Synergy’s Business-Driven LightingTM (BDL) Program?
Dan: The BDL program is our way of putting ourselves in the “client’s shoes” and thinking about their “business” and not just about their lighting. In the retail market, this meant doing what we could to help them sell their product. Highlighting merchandise, using the best color rendering light sources, etc. In manufacturing, this means a focus on safety, quality, productivity, employee morale and long-term maintenance accessibility – and then on energy savings. It means we stick to our core principles and don’t always deliver a 2-year payback proposal because the facility needs more light and we don’t want to focus on saving money if it would mean a sacrifice on the other core values of the BDL program.
MO: Can you provide an example when you’ve offered a creative or unique solution to help solve the problem of a client?
Dan: A client had a new roof and skylights installed but as we usually see with skylights, all of the lights stay on all day, 24/7. So we are replacing the fixtures we installed in 2003 with new fixtures that also have motion sensors wirelessly communicating with each other and back to a smart panel. This will allow each fixture to be addressable and grouped in zones so we can shut down any pattern of lights during the daytime and use motion sensors to strategically control groups in the busy production areas or warehouse aisles. Fixtures can also go to a half-mode where desirable. We will now have most of the lights off all day and about half off during the night which equals a 75% reduction in kWh use from the lighting.
MO: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about?
Dan: In 2012, there has already been amazing developments in LED lighting. Major manufacturers developing well-engineered, high quality fixtures – with prices also dropping quickly. We predict that the standard 2’x4’ fluorescent office fixture will very soon be made obsolete by LED fixtures. We are working with some manufacturers to make specifically what we think will work aesthetically and economically in the marketplace, bridging the gap between the market and the manufacturers.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Dan: Personally, I’m excited about my fourth year of hockey coaching for my son’s Mite team and professionally, the opportunity to have input in the fixture designs that we think can go viral.
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