Eco Ambition: Lighting the Way to a Greener World
Angelenos are constantly seeking new ways to be green. They’ll try everything from buying smaller cars and powering down air conditioning to electing paper instead of plastic at the grocery store. Downtown Los Angeles based Greentorch is lighting the way to a greener world.
Greentorch an eco-friendly lighting solutions company, was recently featured on segments of Discovery Channel’s Planet Green TV series entitled, Alter Eco, hosted by Adrian Grenier (star of HBO’s Entourage).
In a recent installment, Greentorch joined the Alter Eco team of Grenier, eco-developer Rick Byrd, and Supermodel Angela Lindvall, to overhaul the Pharmaka gallery in downtown Los Angeles, making it the first “green” art gallery in the country. The results were illuminating: use of Greentorch LED lighting technologies reduced the lighting load of the gallery by 90% from 3800 watts to 375 watts.
Not long after that first episode, Greentorch was back on the case, this time working with the Alter Eco team to overhaul a $3.5 million, 1920’s spanish stunner in Los Feliz. Again, the team delivered the goods, using CFL bulbs, solar trees, low-flow sinks and toilets to obtain Platinum LEED certification for the residential building.
LAX caught up with Greentorch CEO Gary Glass and CFO David Ferrigno to hear more about their products and plans in this emerging space.
LAX: What inspired the creation of www.Greentorch.com?
Gary Glass: Greentorch was an outgrowth of my experience as a programmer in the biotech industry. I spent years analyzing corporate processes and leveraging technology to make every department of a multi-national corporation paperless while still conforming to the rigorous documentation required for scientific research and by law. What I realized during my analysis was that running a business was incredibly taxing to the environment. Concurrently, a friend of mine was working at a major electrical company and wanted to break away and start his own company. He asked if I would lend my experience in systems, technology and infrastructure to his cause. I said, “Sure. But, instead of paying me cash, I want in on the game.” Luckily we wanted to focus on different areas of the electrical industry. I helped him start his company and he helped me start mine.
LAX: Why did you want to start in lighting?
GG: I wanted to build a platform for improving the environment long-term. I wanted to do the most good and have the biggest impact in terms sustainability and saving the environment. I felt that the place to do this was in commercial lighting, more specifically commercial safety lighting. I started with five different types of exit signs. It’s something that every company and every building has, needs. They’re a huge expense within the building process and one of the big hidden expenses in running a business, building or managing a property. We’re trying to spread the word as quickly as possible. Did you know that just one exit sign can burn up $40 of electricity per year? The costs of replacing the batteries or bulbs in these signs is even more. Imagine an average office, hotel or apartment building with hundreds of these! It’s almost always overlooked, but a quick simple way to identify thousands of dollars in savings per year.
LAX: Have you noticed a corporate trend toward going green?
GG: Yes. Thankfully it’s been catching on over the last five years. Current incandescent bulbs — the light bulbs in exit signs — are being pushed away finally. You’re seeing a faze-out of the energy- and maintenance-hog designs. Do the math. The Greentorch photoluminescent exit signs use zero electricity, and our LEC exit signs draw only 1/4th a watt, down from the typical 35-40 watts — with the money you can save by installing these new ultra energy-efficient exit-signs, it’s a no-brainer. These technologies have a great future within safety lighting and are available now.
LAX: What differentiates Greentorch from a traditional retailer or a web entity selling exit signs or energy-efficient lighting solutions?
David Ferrigno: Most companies who are bringing new products to the market are burdened by their costly legacy infrastructure. Prior to the internet, massive networks of wholesalers, transportation, distributors, logistics, sales reps, and brick-andmortar stores were required to deliver products to end users. Consider the overhead to support the organization in each of those areas. By leveraging technology we are more efficient, and bring the products directly from our factory to the end user. We operate lean and mean. We can bring innovation and new products to market quicker and pass that savings directly to the builder or consumer.
LAX: In addition to safety lighting, what other types of products do you offer?
GG: For general ambient lighting, we now offer high-powered LED light bulbs. Many companies are pitching compact fluorescent bulbs, but for now, we are deciding to not go this direction.
LAX: Let’s get back to the individual. Can changing out bulbs make a difference in my house?
GG: This is perfect. We actually just went through this example in the real world with another challenge given to us by Adrian and Alter Eco. They are building, with developer Richard Byrd and Byrd Development, an ultra luxury, Platinum LEED certified home in L.A. Rick and Adrian were familiar with what we could do in a commercial environment after we greened the Pharmaka Art gallery in downtown Los Angeles. “We need Greentorch technology for a house can you help us?” They were going to install 90 watt and 75 watt halogen bulbs throughout the home. They are going for a Spanish, rustic feel and with aesthetics that could not be accomplished using compact fluorescent. CFL would have ruined the warmth and comfort of the house. We also lit the 100-foot tall oak tree in the back yard using our 9watt fixture called the Lumenterra. Ask any landscape designer, and they will tell you, this is quite a feat!
Greentorch customers include Disney Corporate Headquarters, Boeing, McDonalds, The Valadon Hotel, MGM, Anaheim Convention Center, Vanity Fair, The United Nations, The Custom Hotel, Juicy Couture, House of Blues, UC Irvine, UC Davis, Stanford, Holiday Inn, Delta Airlines and The Irvine Company to name a few.
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– LISA FRANCE