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Earth Day: Business shows off green tech

NORCROSS - Global business to business facility supplies giant Grainger celebrated Earth Day No. 39 Wednesday by demonstrating how its customers can go lean and green.

Branch Manager Jeremy Casteel said more businesses are seeking sustainable solutions to meet their everyday needs.

"Our customers are really looking for a way to save time and money ... money really," Casteel said. "And going green is really going to help them with cost savings down the road."

He said a prime example is Grainger's decision last October to retrofit all the lighting in the 42,000-square-foot warehouse. Casteel said the move, coupled with the installation of motion sensors that allow the lights to turn off after 15 minutes, has since saved the company about $4,000 a month in electricity costs.

Grainger's Roswell branch manager Shawn Bullock said going green can also mean going lean.

"What we focus on here at this branch is the lean process," Bullock said. "And that's really things or processes that cut down and make things more efficient, which allows them to get more bang for their buck."

To bolster this effort, the company recently announced the launch of an online green product catalog that provides its customers, one of which is the Gwinnett County Public School System, with access to more than 3,300 environmentally responsible products.

One of the more popular green products these days being sought out by businesses and consumers is new light bulbs.

GE Lighting's Atlanta territory representative Terri Hardin said in the industrial world, a big move lately has been from high-intensity discharge bulbs to those that have an electronic ballast. She said another popular switch is to compact fluorescent bulbs from traditional incandescent bulbs. The result is the same for both, she said - energy savings.

"A 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb can replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb and you'll get the same lumen output and it will last 10 times as long," Hardin said. "And while some people look at those bulbs and say they're too expensive, the payback is within six months typically."

Hardin said another reason businesses are making lighting upgrades is because of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, which has since been extended until 2013.

"It's for commercial buildings," she said. "It says that if they reduce the wattage per square foot within a certain range, they can get a one-time tax credit from the government."

And because it's Georgia and more specifically metro Atlanta, Grainger sells lots of products tailored toward conserving water.

"Motion-activated faucets, waterless urinals, these things have been around for awhile," Grainger's Kristen Lawrence said. "But we're trying to be proactive with our customers to let them know what's out there to help them cut costs and be environmentally responsible."