Automaker relights HQ

Lighting retrofit spotlights environmental responsibility, innovation

American Honda Motor Co. implemented a lighting retrofit of its U.S.headquarters, including an LED lighting installation in its lobby, that is estimated to net it net annual kWh savings of 1,387,824 kWh; and annual CO2 emissions equivalent averted: 749,508 lbs.

  • Annual energy cost savings: $166,538
  • Annual kilowatt-hours savings: 1,387,824
  • Annual CO2 emissions equivalent averted: 749,508 lbs.
Honda Building
The lobby in Honda’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., is a showroom for its vehicles and other products, as well as a reflection of its global energy consumption reduction goals, as showcased by the installation of an LED lighting retrofit.

Honda, which produces automobiles and power equipment in 14 factories in North America, is keen on environmental responsibility.

“Honda has a global initiative to reduce its overall CO2 footprint by 30 percent worldwide by 2020, with 2000 as our baseline,” relayed Garth Sellers, Honda’s manager of North American corporate facilities.

As a result, the company has been doing sustainable lighting retrofits across the country at all of its facilities, including plants, distribution centers, and office buildings, to reduce overall energy consumption and costs.


Honda’s U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., is a multibuilding campus comprising its sales, research and development, parts distribution, administrative, and business development personnel to support its North American business (see Figure 1). The company wanted its headquarters to reflect the energy efficiency changes it was making nationally and internationally.

“On the facility side, we’re looking at reducing our carbon footprint, but we’re also looking at reducing our costs—not only with lighting retrofits, but also at our entire facility operations. We look at the full package to make sure that it’s environmentally friendly and cost-effective,” Sellers said.

The buildings on the automaker’s 1 million-square-foot campus have been equipped with standard T12 and first-generation T8 fluorescent lamp and ballast systems, as well as incandescent and metal halide fixtures.

The centerpiece of the headquarters campus is its lobby (see lead image). It is a high-visibility showroom where new models are showcased. “We felt that we needed to do something with our lobby. That is one of the areas that we hadn’t addressed in the past, and it was time to look at it,” Sellers said.

Reflect Innovation, Longevity Goals

The automaker considers innovation and durability as part of its DNA. Honda’s vehicles are well-known to outlast many of its rivals’, exhibiting 200,000-, even 300,000-mile life spans. In addition, innovation has been key to the manufacturer’s popularity and affordability. Company management wanted the lighting strategy for its lobby to reflect that. Not only was the lighting retrofit to yield energy savings, it was to be the most innovative, technologically advanced approach feasible—and it had to be as long-lasting and reliable as its vehicles.

“The solution had to be something that will give us long-lasting reliance,” Sellers said. “We operate our facilities like we build our automobiles.”

Energy Audit Illuminates Options

The carmaker enlisted Sylvania Lighting Services, a subsidiary of Osram Sylvania, to conduct a thorough energy audit of its American home base, provide a comprehensive lighting recommendation, and execute the new system installation.

Sylvania Lighting Services first assessed the existing lighting systems and discovered that in some areas, a simple re-retrofit and re-lamping strategy would promote energy efficiency, save money, and improve lighting quality.

In other areas, such as the headquarters lobby, the lighting services company designed an approach to integrate efficient and cost-effective lighting systems with exceptional life spans.

Spotlight on Lobby

Honda HQ
American Honda Motor Co. wanted its U.S. headquarters to be a beacon of its commitment to innovative environmentalism.

The high-visibility lobby has a 25-foot-high ceiling. The ceiling height was the primary challenge, Sellers said. “We were using high-pressure sodium lighting, which is no longer the most efficient. In addition, maintenance costs to change the lighting were high because of the ceiling height. So we started looking at various options to determine what the best fit would be and what we could do to change it out.

“We wanted to reduce energy, and at the same time, reduce our maintenance costs, get some longevity out of the lighting system, and give us a reasonable ROI. Those were our primary objectives,” Sellers said.

Another limitation was that the configuration of the ceiling openings could not be changed, Sellers relayed. “So that was another challenge for us.”

To Sellers, a cost-effective option did not necessarily mean the lowest purchase price.

“We looked not only at the price of the fixture, but also at the energy savings and the amount of light that we would get from it and at the overall maintenance costs.”

Maintenance was a critical factor, Sellers stressed. “Because it is our main lobby, it just doesn’t look good for lights to be out. Plus, we have to bring in a special lift to get up to that height. We don’t want to interrupt business with light replacements, so when you’re doing that, you’re doing it on off-hours. So your costs are going to increase substantially by doing frequent changeouts.

“So the idea was to put some lighting up there that would last, hopefully, for years to come,” Sellers said.

LED Selected

Once Sellers analyzed all the various options for the lobby, he selected an LED system. Typically, Sylvania’s D6 LED retrofit kit replaces metal halide and other HID area-lighting lamps and fixtures in outdoor applications. This was the first time the kit was used for an indoor, commercial office application.

“It was a new application for the LEDs, but we felt it was worth trying,” Sellers said.

The LED lighting system allowed Honda to retain the current ceiling configuration. “It was a better fit. Plus, we didn’t think that we could get the illumination that we needed from fluorescent lighting at that height and with the small openings that we had in the ceiling.”

The installation was pretty cut-and-dry, Sellers said. “That was another consideration. They came in and did it over a weekend. Our associates left on a Friday, and when they came back on Monday, it was done. There was no interruption to the business, and that’s how we try to do things.”

Bright Results, Lofty Returns

The results are very bright, Sellers said, in terms of the illumination, reduced maintenance, and return on investment.

The lobby LED lighting retrofit is projected to save Honda 88,300 kWh and $13,245 per year.

The entire lighting retrofit throughout the automaker’s campus will net annual kilowatt-hour savings of 1,387,824, estimated electricity cost savings of $166,538, and CO2 emissions equivalent aversion of 749,508 lbs.

By combining the cost savings and earning rebates for its efforts from the state of California, Honda expects to see full payback for the project in 1.5 to 2 years. Key to the retrofit’s viability were utility incentives, with the overall rebate equaling more than 20 percent of the total project costs.

Not only does the new lighting system greatly lower American Honda’s energy consumption, maintenance costs are also reduced because of the extended lamp life, leading to even further cost savings.

“So, even though the overall ROI was a little longer than you’d normally expect, it still turned out to be the most cost-effective option for us,” Sellers concluded.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc., 1919 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90501,

Osram Sylvania, 100 Endicott St., Danvers, MA 01923, 800-323-0572,

Add Comment Register

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>