Published on: February 18, 2016

Guest blogger CHARLIE SZORADI provides data supporting that LED lighting retrofits can provide a considerable ROI for military institutions in the State of South Carolina alone, something to ponder alongside the upcoming primary elections, and would certainly sustain claims of job creation, healthcare improvements, and government financial gains.

Presidential candidates should look up at the lights and launch a War on Energy Waste

A War on Energy Waste is a war that we can win. America has fatigue from the extraordinary costs of the War on Terrorism, War on Poverty, and War on Drugs. In each case, the high cost of time, treasure, and human life has delivered results that are far lower than expectations. A War on Energy Waste is winnable given the high return on investment (ROI) from technology such as LED lighting that is available today.*

As Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates criss-cross South Carolina for the respective February 20th and 27th primary elections, they can add fresh content to their standard stump speeches. The highlights outlined here focus on cost-effective ways to achieve better healthcare and job creation for veterans and fund the fight against ISIS.

Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina is a military powerhouse with eight major installations and a military community generating over $15 billion in annual economic activity that supports over 130,000 jobs. 900 defense contracting firms are also executing US Department of Defense (DoD) contracts within the state. This data from the South Carolina Department of Commerce is a sub-set of the even larger national impact of our military.

According to the DoD, there are over 1.3 million men and women on active duty, 742,000 civilian personnel, and 826,000 serving in the National Guard and Reserve forces. The 2.8 million total makes the DoD our nation’s largest employer. DoD occupies more than 700,000 buildings at 5,000 different locations on over 30 million acres of land.

In South Carolina, the presidential candidates may visit military bases and US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. The VA is the largest integrated health care system in the US consisting of 152 medical centers and almost 1,400 community-based outpatient clinics, community living centers, Vet Centers and Domiciliaries. The VA cares for more than 8.3 million Veterans each year. In South Carolina, there are over 56,000 military retirees supported by the Regional Benefit Office in Columbia, two VA Medical Center Hospitals, four Vet Centers, and eleven Community Based Outpatient Clinics.

War on Energy Waste: When the presidential candidates visit any of the military bases or veteran facilities in South Carolina, they should look up at the ceiling for a simple reason. Military and civilian government facilities are wasting tax payer dollars at an extraordinary level with outdated lighting. LED technology can cut the electricity consumption in half, and the private sector is embracing the high ROI.

The order of magnitude is tremendous based on data from the General Services Administration (GSA) and LED performance metrics. The military and VA occupy more than 2.2 billion sq. ft. of buildings which is two thirds of the total 3.4 billion sq. ft. of federal government property. At $1 per sq. ft. to retrofit with LEDs, the annual energy savings is typically $0.33 per sq. ft. or higher. The government could save over a billion dollars every year just by changing the lights and save more than $10 billion over the decade-long life of the LED technology.

The billions in energy savings can serve many much needed purposes:

  • #1: Staffing nurses and support at the Veterans Medical Centers and Clinics
  • #2: Job training for veterans in need of employment
  • #3: Fighting ISIS and other terror organizations

By launching a War on Energy Waste, the government can go beyond job training to also create opportunities for veterans to work on many aspects of lighting retrofits. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), there are over 87 billion sq. ft. of commercial real estate in the US. With $1 per sq. ft. to retrofit and one new job created for every $150,000 in lighting retrofits, the employment ripple effect is over 580,000 new jobs. The employment includes counting lights to prepare savings analysis, utility rebate administration, installation, project management, engineering, and product production. Many of the jobs involve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S.T.E.M.) so the clean-tech work is foundational for 21st century careers. The national energy savings will exceed $287 billion over the next decade and yield over 3.4 trillion lbs of CO2 emissions reduction, the equivalent of taking about 30 million cars off the road.

As the CEO of Independence LED Lighting, I brought our LED manufacturing from China to Pennsylvania in 2010. We are one of multiple companies that have just scratched the massive potential of energy savings and job creation. Beyond our Fortune 100 and small business accounts, we have seeded the public sector with installations at the VA Medical Center in Durham, NC, the US Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, and over 30 US Navy ships for Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Donald Trump, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson along with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton all talk in different ways about healthcare, job creation, and combating terrorism. A War on Energy Waste starting in government buildings will help fund each initiative and also build a long-term foundation for strength and American Energy Independence.

*Download a PDF of the Support Calculation Files.

Data Sources (click on links for more information):

South Carolina Department of Commerce

US Department of Defense

US Department of Veterans Affairs

US Department of Veterans Affairs – South Carolina

General Services Administration

US Energy Information Administration

CO2 Reduction: and

CHARLIE SZORADI is CEO of Independence LED Lighting ( He can be reached at