This guest post is from Rebecca Holman, communications for the US Green Building Council West Michigan Chapter

Nichols is a regional distributor of custodial and packaging supplies and equipment. They are headquartered in Norton Shores and have six other locations in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.  The custodial department partners with organizations to ensure clean and healthy facilities.

This is not as simple as providing products.  Nichols excels at training and support of lean practices that reduce labor.  They offer cleaning programs that improve indoor air quality and the cleanliness of commercial buildings.  Nichols packaging helps customers with the safe shipment of their products by providing packaging materials that reduce their client’s environmental footprint while ensuring shipments arrive safely.

In 2007, Nichols moved the corporate headquarters and distribution center from Muskegon to Norton Shores. The 112,000-square-foot distribution facility started with an EnergyStar score of 74. Nichols chose to pursue LEED for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (EBOM) for the new building. Renovations and improvements were made and the building received Gold certification in June 2010. The building reduced a total of 34 percent from 2008 to 2010 as a primary result of electrical upgrades.

Since then, Nichols recertified the building as LEED EBOM (Warehouse category) under the newest version of LEED (V4), achieving Gold in October 2015. LEED v4 was designed to raise the energy efficiency bar. It encourages projects that have met earlier LEED version to push the performance of their buildings to even higher standards.

Nichols has been an active competitor in Michigan Battle of the Buildings energy reduction competition since it launched in 2014.

Nichols was recognized as a biggest loser in the 2014 and 2015 competitions for their corporate headquarters and distribution center. In 2014 Nichols placed 1st in the “Other” category with an energy reduction of 7 percent. But they didn’t stop there.  In 2015 Nichols placed 2nd in the “Other” category with an energy reduction of 10.84 percent.

Improvements over the years:

  • CO2 monitors added to HVAC system (2015)
  • Removing 2 of 6 lamps from the 217 fixtures in the warehouse (2015)
  • Upgrade from metal halide to florescent fixtures (2008)
  • Upgrade office lighting to LED (2016)
  • Upgrade to exterior building lighting to LED (2015)
  • Upgraded dock lighting to LED (2016)

Future Plans:

  • Lighting control system in the warehouse and upgrade to LED
  • PV solar with the possibility of a 100-kw or larger system

Nichols takes advantage of incentives from utility companies which is a large piece of the return on investment.  An example of this is the CO2 monitors which were added to the two air handling units and five furnaces servicing the office area.  The cost of this project was $7224,00.  Since the incentive was based on square footage served by the units, the DTE incentive was $9753.00 making this project cash positive upon installation.

Nichols joined the Michigan Battle of the Buildings again in 2016. Winners will be announced and celebrated on April 19, 2017 at the Michigan Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit held at the JW Marriot in Grand Rapids.

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