New Orleans Cold Storage Taps Digital Lumens to Light New Post-Katrina Cold Storage Warehouse


Customer: New Orleans Cold Storage (NOCS)
Location: New Orleans, LA
Facility Size: 142,000 ft2
Environment: Cold Storage
Temperature Range: -15° to 35°F (-26º to 2ºC)
Installation: Retrofit
Savings: 60% energy
Alternative Solution: 6-Lamp T5 HIF
Shifts: 2
Design Firm: Primus Builders
General Contractor: The McDonnel Group

Intelligent LED Lighting Uses 60% Less Lighting Energy, Reduces Building’s Energy Intensity, and Provides New Levels of Operational Control

Established in 1886, New Orleans Cold Storage and Warehouse Company (NOCS) is the oldest cold storage company in North America and remains, to this day, dedicated to providing flawless and efficient storage and logistics services to its worldwide customer base. In addition to enabling the movement of dry, time and temperature-sensitive cargo — either by truck, rail, container ships, or breakbulk cargo vessels — the company operates four warehousing facilities in three strategic U.S. port cities, including New Orleans, Houston, and Charleston, with more than 12,000,000 cubic feet of refrigerated storage capacity.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Cold Storage decided to build a new 142,000 square-foot facility in the Port of New Orleans. From the very start of the project, company management recognized that the rebuild presented an extraordinary opportunity to re-think how energy was used, and zeroed-in on energy efficiency as the driving force for capital investment decisions. Traditional lighting — including the heat it generates and the corresponding impact on freezer loads — was specifically targeted for improvement, as it consistently represented one of the highest line items in the original facility’s budget (after refrigeration). Lighting simply consumed too much energy and required too much maintenance, which would place an undue burden on the facility’s budget and warehousing operations.

Working with Primus Design Services and The McDonnel Group, a construction management company, the team at NOCS was determined to find a dramatically more efficient, maintenance-free lighting solution to support the location’s poultry business. It found that solution and more with the Intelligent LED Lighting System from Digital Lumens.

“To say lighting has always represented a challenge for our cold storage facilities would be an extreme understatement,” said Mark Blanchard, President of New Orleans Cold Storage. “From luminaire longevity and heat loads to lamp life, maintenance and efficiency, continuous operations in sub-zero environments stress traditional lighting, placing a heavy burden on facility budgets and refrigeration systems. In our new facility, we’ve overcome these challenges with the LED-based system from Digital Lumens, with bottom-line savings, better light quality, and unprecedented control—without the disruptions associated with regularly changing burned out bulbs and ballasts.”

Reaping Tremendous Savings

The new cold storage warehouse, with 40-foot ceilings, has temperatures that range from -15° F for its three Quick Freezing Rack rooms (which can freeze more than 560,000 pounds of poultry to 0° F within a 24-hour period), to -10° F for large open storage space, and 35°F for dock areas used for loading and unloading cargo. The Digital Lumens high-bay product line — available with either narrow optics (for racked aisles) or wide optics (for distributing light evenly over open spaces) optics—addressed the varying needs of the facility while:

  • Saving more than 245,764 kWh in annual energy use, or 60% less than the 6-lamp T5 high-intensity fluorescents with sensors that the builder would have specified
  • Eliminating annual maintenance costs associated with re-lamping, re-ballasting, and disposing of lamps containing mercury
  • Reducing annual chiller costs due to the low thermal load that the low-wattage, occupancy-driven place on the refrigeration system

“We evaluated a range of industrial LED lighting alternatives and found that the energy efficiency and maintenance savings from the Digital Lumens system provided a rapid payback while delivering exceptional performance and light quality,” said Matt Hirsch, Vice President of Sales for Primus Builders. “The NOCS installation validates our belief that well-designed energy-efficient products are good investments, and enhance the quality and performance of critical infrastructure while reducing the energy intensity of the project.”

Up to The Challenge

In the new facility, which offers 4.3 million cubic feet of storage, NOCS installed three state-of-the-art Quick Freeze Rack Zones (QFRs) freezers that are maintained at -15° F. They use a high-powered air-movement system that circulates cold air to more cost-effectively chill the chicken, helping the facility use 1/3 the horsepower of comparable facilities.

Adding to the very real energy savings is the Intelligent Lighting System’s unique range of features and benefits, which are enabling the facility to:

  • Dim and turn off lights when a space is unoccupied. Occupancy sensors in each luminaire detect when a space is unoccupied and automatically dim or turn off individual lights. Unlike traditional luminaires, the LED-based Digital Lumens luminaires instantly return to full brightness when the sensor is activated, even in the extremely cold QFR areas.
  • Have detailed operational reports. LightRules, the Digital Lumens lighting management software, wirelessly gathers data from every luminaire and provides reports showing energy use or occupancy by room, shift, or facility-wide so that the NOCS engineering team can optimize lighting settings and respond to changing operational needs.
  • Easily modify and optimize luminaires’ settings without ever having to touch them. With LightRules, the NOCS team can easily modify lighting settings via the keyboard, so they never need to use a scissor lift to make changes.
  • Eliminate maintenance and mercury disposal fees. Traditional HIF lamps require frequent re-lamping and re-ballasting, particularly when used in cold environments or cycled on and off to save energy, which significantly decreases luminaire life. With the Digital Lumens system, NOCS eliminated maintenance costs altogether.
    Reduce thermal load on the chiller system. The 160-Watt luminaires, which are turned off or dimmed when areas are vacant, use less power and generate less heat than alternatives.
  • Mix and match luminaires from the Digital Lumens high bay product line to meet specific lighting needs. With everything from refrigerated rack storage areas to inspection and loading spaces, requiring a variety of optics — from narrow for task lighting to wide for broad and even distribution — the Intelligent Lighting System provided NOCS with the flexibility to match luminaire choices to the specific needs of its facility.

Unveiled at a ceremony in New Orleans attended by Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, and other local officials, supplemental funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Port of New Orleans, and the State of Louisiana. According to Mark Blanchard, President of New Orleans Cold Storage, “The Digital Lumens System is delivering everything we expected and more — energy efficiency, light quality, and cost containment perspective — helping ensure success for the company, the environment, and the great State of Louisiana.”