KSU organization helps businesses reduce energy usage

By TEENA THOMAS

Bright Idea Energy Solutions, an organization at Kennesaw State University, is providing LED lighting to businesses in order to reduce energy usage and cost.

Bright Idea Energy Solutions focuses on spreading the word about high efficiency lighting. This organization is part of an international nonprofit organization called Enactus, which develops partnerships between college students and businesses to make students into young entrepreneurs by doing projects that help other people.

The creators of Bright Idea Energy Solutions are Jett Hattaway, a current student at KSU, and former student Nick Ruggiero. They originally came up with the idea and they presented it to the board of Enactus. The main purpose of Enactus organizations is to help students develop into leaders.

So Hattaway and Ruggiero brought together the idea of providing businesses with high efficiency lighting. Once the board approved the idea, they were provided funding and resources to get the organization started, and thus Bright Idea Energy Solutions was born.

“LED lights won’t break like traditional lighting, last about 25 times longer and also use about 80 percent less energy,” KSU student and account manager Anton Watt said.

Many people do not realize that traditional lighting contains hazardous gasses and mercury that can cause people to become sick or poisoned if the bulbs were to break.

The members of Bright idea Energy Solutions consist of five people, including a director of operations, a chief financial officer and three account managers.

They all go around to different businesses and inform owners of the idea of switching over from traditional lighting to LED lighting. The price for the LED lights varies depending on the quantity needed and the type of light. The funding is provided through a third party investor.

Bright Idea provides the lighting, installs it and even gives the business a 25-day return policy. So far three businesses have received the lights, including a bed and breakfast, a chiropractic office and a restaurant. It is a profit-making venture for the organization once the business has agreed to invest in the lighting.

“The first thing we do when we go into a business is give them an assessment; we let them know how much energy they will save, the cost and their alternatives,” account manager and KSU student Darrell Thomas said.

When they give them an assessment, it is a very time consuming process. The first step is identifying the number of light bulbs a business and the type of bulbs they are using. Next they figure out wattage of each type of light bulb they have and compare it to the LED application. They normally see an 80 percent reduction in energy usage.

The more a business reduces its energy consumption the higher the tax deduction that the business will get on its income tax. This tax deduction is based on the “interim lighting rule,” which allows a tax deduction equal to the cost of installing efficient lighting.

The Bright Idea Energy Solution account managers let each business owner know how much they would save in maintaining their lights and how they will see an increase in employee productivity. Many popular businesses such as Starbucks and Ikea have already transitioned over to LED lighting.

“The worst-case environmental scenario is currently occurring in Beijing, China. Beijing has been experiencing extreme air pollution in recent years due to the over consumption of energy from coal and oil power plants,” said Watt. “To solve this problem, the Chinese government has made strong efforts to replace all of its street lamps with LEDs as well its municipal buildings.

“By doing this China will dramatically reduce its energy consumption and relieve its great city of much of its air pollution.”

The strong emphasis Bright Ideas Energy Solutions account managers want to get across is that more efficient lighting would slow global warming. They want to reduce the carbon emissions that are being released into our environment as well as energy usage. In the long run they have plans to install solar panels on households and businesses to provide for their electrical needs.

“Solar panels produce free energy from the sun; a renewable source, that will reduce factories need to produce more energy to power cities,” said Watt.

“Solar panels take in sunlight, which charge into a battery, which in turn produces electricity. It would lower CO2 emissions, which would in turn slow global warming as well,” Thomas said.

Homeowners who convert to solar panels will see a dramatic reduction of their monthly utility bills. The savings eventually pay for the installation in a few years.

Today, Bright Idea Energy Solutions is only a little more than four months old so it still has much room for growth. Currently the organization is not looking for any new members but if it is, it normally reaches out to the student body.

“The industry is definitely in its infancy, but it is one that has plenty of room for growth and production,” Thomas said.

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