Racine’s Cree Lighting Exemplifies Sustainability

Focus on Practices and Production Methods

Racine, WI – Cree Lighting, a company of IDEAL INDUSTRIES, is a market-leading innovator of LED lighting fixtures, lamps and commercial lighting solutions for interior, exterior and intelligent lighting applications. Headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, the company employs approximately 1,200 people globally, with more than 800 working out of its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility on Washington Avenue in Racine, WI.

With nearly 40 years of history in Racine, Cree Lighting pioneered LED lighting and forever changed the lighting industry. The company has a history of firsts – first to bring LED lighting to the masses, first to deliver warm white light without compromise, first to offer a sensor-integrated one-touch setup intelligent lighting platform, and first to bring the outdoors in to commercial facilities with the Cadiant™ dusk to dawn lighting experience.

cree lighting window
cree lighting workroom

With LED technology, inefficient incandescent, fluorescent, metal halide and other traditional lighting sources are being replaced with long life LED solutions that require no maintenance, use up to 80% less energy, contain no toxic elements, produce the same amount of light, and deliver a fast payback. LED lighting dramatically reduces energy demand from power plants and decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

Because LED is a digital technology, Cree Lighting engineers have been able to add intelligence to its fixtures, further maximizing energy savings. The company’s SmartCast Intelligence Platform™ is the first sensor-integrated control platform of its kind, combining embedded sensors in each fixture with cutting edge electronics and software to turn on lights when you enter a room, turn them off when you are away, and “harvest” available daylight by dimming down on sunny days.

When integrated with a building management system, the system can provide insights on when and how energy is consumed, empowering building managers to further reduce energy use and make available free space.

Commitment to Sustainability

As a manufacturer of LED lighting products that allow organizations and municipalities to achieve their energy reduction targets, Cree Lighting’s dedication to environmental sustainability doesn’t end with producing the best energy-saving lighting solutions – the company is focused on sustainable facilities and production methods.

“Cree Lighting is committed to the communities where we do business, and we’ve implemented a comprehensive sustainability program that reduces our energy consumption and protects our environment. Sustainability is a part of our culture, which starts in our new hire training, and is integrated into the daily activities from the factory line to the leadership team. This approach has improved landfill diversion rates from 82 percent in 2016 to more than 90 percent in 2018 and 2019.”
craig atwater cree lighting
Craig Atwater
General Manager & Senior Vice President

An employee “Green Team”, representing all business areas and all shifts, stewards and executes key company sustainability goals. The team goes about its mission by coaching peers about the importance of recycling and energy conservation actions, as well as ensuring effective processes and infrastructure to enable improvement are in place.

The team has driven the development of an employee rideshare program, installation of on-site electric vehicle charging stations, and elimination of water-cooled air compressors which save thousands of gallons per day. They are also exploring the installation of solar panels.

“Our employee suggestions program has helped the Green Team identify many of our best sustainability opportunities. Last year we implemented 302 suggestions, which helped us achieve an 18% reduction in energy consumption for our production areas, and a 4% reduction in our paint shop.”
tim ulrich cree lighting
Tim Ulrich
Environmental Health & Safety Director

Achieving Sustainable Recognition

In 2016, Cree lighting achieved ISO 14001 certification, the international standard for an effective environmental management system that helps organizations minimize negative environmental impacts.

To further improve energy performance at its 600,000-square foot Racine facility, the in-house energy management team partnered with Focus on Energy and We Energies to develop a Strategic Energy Management process.  The goal is to achieve compliance with the U.S. Department of Energy’s 50001 Ready Program.

Cree Lighting is also in the process of completing certification for Zero Waste to Landfill through the U.S Green Building Council Total Resource Use and Efficiency (TRUE) system. The TRUE Zero Waste certification will help the company define, pursue and achieve its zero waste goals, cutting its carbon footprint and supporting public health.

Cree Lighting representatives participate in the Racine Sustainable Business Network. In early 2018, the company hosted the group’s quarterly meeting, providing industry peers with strategies on how to achieve energy reduction targets while improving lighting performance at their businesses, and has held several informational sessions open to the public on consumer lighting projects.


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