Sun rising for Nature’s Lighting
When it was established in 1972, Federal Express started with 23 airplanes, 50 trucks, 300 employees and six packages to deliver. Now FedEx is a Fortune 500 company and is seen as an innovator in the shipping industry.
Many people, including writers for Fortune Magazine, claim the success came because the company was so well managed.
Mike Basch, FedEx vice president of sales and customer service when the company began operations, was a big part of the management team, but has now moved his focus from shipping to sunlight.
Basch is now the CEO of Nature’s Lighting, headquartered in Park City. The company opened in September of 2005, and, upon hearing about the idea, Basch joined three months later.
Nature’s Lighting manufactures its product in Dallas, but recently made Park City its home for research and design, as well as its corporate headquarters. Basch said executives chose the Utah site because, "There’s an energy here around thinking green and a receptivity to what we’re doing."
"We want to position Park City as a capital of daylighting," he continued. "We believe Park City is ideal for a number of reasons: obviously the amount of sunshine, but it’s also only 30 minutes from a major airport so it’s a great place to bring people to show them the benefits of daylighting."
The company specializes in using daylighting to light corporate buildings naturally. Daylighting, Basch said, is the "science of bringing outside light inside," done by using a system of mirrors that collect sunlight and then reflect it, using a diffuser, through a skylight to evenly and inexpensively illuminate a room. The latest models also run the light through a UV filter to eliminate heat, helping to save on air conditioning bills.
"We believe, and we think we can prove this, that every single-story building constructed from here on out throughout the world should be built with daylighting in it," he said. "It’s free, it’s healthy and it preserves the environment."
The technology is geared for use by schools, business offices, retail stores, warehouses, government buildings and other business environments. It can also be used in homes, but Nature’s Lighting has stayed out of the residential market.
Basch said that many companies are coming on board, including Wal-Mart.
"Wal-Mart will no longer build stores without daylighting," Basch said. "There is a store in Aurora, Colo., with our units installed."
He the process of setting up the store with Nature’s Lighting units was one of the experiences that helped him to buy in to daylighting.
At the time Wal-Mart placed the order, Nature’s Lighting didn’t have any available units, but a contract with an established timeline had been signed. In order to meet the deadlines, they temporarily borrowed 28 units from a warehouse that already had some installed. That’s when Basch realized what a difference daylighting really made.
"Once we had reinstalled their units, I asked the warehouse manager if he noticed a difference (while they were gone)," Basch said. "Without even a thought, the guy said he noticed three things. He said (having the units) saved them $2,000 a month in electricity for air conditioning and lighting, he noticed the employees got testy with each other, which hadn’t been the case with the units, and all the plants they had in the building died in the two months they were gone. If plants die under all artificial light, what is going to happen to human beings in the same conditions?"
He said that although the experiment was unintended, it was valuable in showing him the three major advantages to daylighting.
"The first real kicker is what daylight does for the human being and our individual performance, and this is really why Wal-Mart is going to it," he said. "If I were in a building lit up by artificial lighting, my eyes can distinguish eight shades of color, but if I go outside or I have daylight in the building, I can distinguish over 5,000 shades of color. The human being, with daylighting as opposed to artificial lighting, is much more effective."
The second area daylighting affects, he said, is the rise in morale. He said that every individual’s circadian rhythm is thrown off each day they aren’t exposed to sunlight, making it more difficult to sleep and to feel rested. He also said Australia and Norway have passed laws based on these findings that employers are required to expose their employees to daylight.
The third advantage to daylighting, according to Basch, is the value it provides to the environment. Since artificial light sources can be turned off, daylighting reduces the use of electricity. It also cuts down on the waste created by burnt-out light bulbs and packaging.
Daylighting can also save money. Basch said that users will get an average return of 15 to 35 percent on their electrical bill when compared to the cost of the units and their installation.
"When I started, I was looking for something that truly helped humanity, and with those three things I talked about that Nature’s Lighting does, it’s like there’s no down side," he said.
Basch moved to Park City from Vermont in March, and said he could not imagine a better place to be. After living in Colorado for 12 years, he and his wife both love the mountains and the outdoor lifestyle.
He said the key to helping people realize the benefits of daylighting is to educate. The company just hired "a very high-level vice president of sales and training and a vice president of marketing to not only train our own people, but to get the word out across the county," he said.
The Nature’s Lighting office in Park City will be expanding, Basch said, adding a new research and design building next to the current office. He said the expansion will likely not stop there.
"There’s no question that there’s going to be a daylighting revolution," he said. "There is a revolution going on and, in fact, the market is heating up a lot faster than even I thought it would. It’s just a no-brainer."
Nature’s Lighting is located at 6420 Business Park Loop Road and can be reached at (435) 645-2728 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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