Looking on the Bright Side
When Huntington National Bank acquired Sky Bank, Huntington felt it was time for customers to see its growing enterprise in a new light. By switching to a more efficient lighting design, the bank not only created a more inviting atmosphere, it also slashed its energy expenses by more than 60%.
Huntington Bancshares, parent company of Huntington National Bank (a $55 billion regional bank holding company located in Youngstown, Ohio), acquired Sky Financial Group in 2006—a move that made Huntington National the 24th largest domestically controlled bank in the country. The bank viewed the merger as the perfect opportunity to embark on a new lighting strategy. Rick Bunyoff, Huntington’s facilities services’ regional manager, had a few requirements in mind.
“We are always looking for ways to reduce our energy spend, and we wanted to work with a vendor/partner that has our best interest in mind,” he said.
Bunyoff turned to Youngstown, Ohio-based HVAC, roofing and energy-management firm Roth Bros. The company conducted a detailed analysis of the bank’s energy consumption and related costs. While heating and air conditioning were high-energy-consumption areas, lighting held a bigger opportunity.
“The bank always used the most efficient lighting available, however companies are not always conscious of what their actual lighting costs are,” said Tom Froelich Jr., executive VP of Roth Bros. “We help companies analyze how they spend money at their facilities, and then we implement strategies that reduce energy spends.”
Huntington’s goals for the new lighting included improving light levels and reducing kilowatts across branches.
“We were also attracted to potential tax credits available under EPACT [The Energy Policy Act of 2005],” Bunyoff said. (This energy legislation, which went into effect in 2005, offers qualifying companies that proactively use energy-saving solutions a tax deduction of $0.60 per square foot.)
To meet the goals, Roth began transitioning the bank branches away from traditional light switches and energy-draining T12 fluorescent lamps to smaller, more efficient T5 fluorescents. It also installed dual light switches, and motion detectors that control banks of lights in conference rooms, bathrooms and utility rooms.
By the end of the first quarter, Huntington’s new lighting solutions began delivering results. Besides “giving our branches a new, attractive look,” Bunyoff said, the changes helped the bank slash its electrical usage by 64%.
To date, the bank has reduced its T12 fixture count by 700 fixtures across 48 branches. This transition will support an $85,000 annual energy savings, and provide more light using fewer fixtures, according to Froelich.
The dual controls will save the company up to 50% in energy consumption, “by reducing the amount of lights used in a room,” he added. These remediations also earned the company a $100,000 tax deduction for 2007 based on the EPACT requirements.
This figure could rise even higher next year as the government contemplates a new EPACT bill that will raise tax credits to $0.75 per square foot.
“If the new law passes, Roth will re-certify all the [remediated] locations so we can receive the additional tax credit,” Bunyoff said.
To date, the new lighting design has been rolled out in about 50% of one of the bank’s five operating markets.
“We will continue to install the lighting [solutions] in the remainder of our facilities,” Bunyoff reported. “We are also considering other Roth services, including their roofing management and HVAC preventative-maintenance programs.”
The bank is also exploring the benefits of Roth’s building-controls program. The program would let Roth remotely control Huntington’s indoor and outdoor lighting and HVAC.
Wal-Mart to sell earth-friendly CDs
SANTA MONICA, Calif. As part of Wal-Mart’s “Earth Month” the company is selling more than 20 Universal Music Group titles that come with special earth-friendly inserts. The inserts are made with special seed paper and, according to the companies, can actually bloom into wildflowers.
The inserts, in addition to being good for the environment, also offer consumers three free digital downloads from Universal Music. Universal also said that a number of its new CDs will be packaged in third-party certified, renewable recycled board and recyclable paper.
ODP urges rejection of Levan nominees
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. Office Depot is continuing to urge its shareholders to reject dissident nominees and elect the company’s nominees to its board of directors at its annual shareholders meeting this April.
In a proxy statement sent to investors, Office Depot said that Alan Levan’s proposed nominees would do little to help improve shareholder value. According to the statement, Levan’s company, Levitt Corp. has seen its share price fall about 93% over the past three years and that its subsidiary, Levitt and Sons, is in bankruptcy. Office Depot also noted that BankAtlantic, of which Levan is chairman and ceo and one of his nominees, is president of real estate, construction and development, share price has dropped approximately 75% over the past three years.
Office Depot also cited news reports that commented on Levan’s failing business ventures, as well as others that said that his nominees are not qualified to serve on Office Depot’s board of directors.
The company pointed out nominee Mark Begelman’s experience with Mars Music, a company he founded in 1997 that went bankrupt in 2002. According to Office Depot, many news reports attributed this failure to a flawed business strategy.
According to Office Depot, when Levan’s other nominee, Martin Hanaka served as chairman of Sports Authority from 1998 to 2003, the company saw its price fall by about 13%.
Office Depot stressed that its directors best understand the company and are well-suited to help the company grow.
“We strongly believe that removing two of the most experienced retailing executives from our board, including our current ceo who is driving the implementation of our strategic turnaround plan, would be highly disruptive, could delay the implementation of internal and external initiatives and could damage prospects for a successful turnaround,” Office Depot said in the proxy statement.