Lighting Up

America’s Green Line in downtown Detroit offers highly efficient LED lights


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John Economy (left) and Nico Gatzaros, CEO, are co-owners with Maria Gatzaros (majority owner) of America’s Green Line in Detroit.

Photograph by Josh Scott

For several months, restaurateur Nico Gatzaros kept hearing about new, energy-efficient lighting that offered a number of advantages over conventional lights, including 70 percent to 80 percent savings on electricity, less heat output, and brighter bulbs. Gatzaros thought it was too good to be true.

“I had some experience with LED lights, and what I saw was that they would eventually produce a pink or blue hue, they were expensive, and the bulbs burned out fairly quickly,” says Gatzaros, co-owner of the London Chop House in downtown Detroit and three Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen Cafes, with locations in Detroit’s Greektown, Southfield, and St. Clair Shores.

Introduced to a lighting expert marketing a new line of LEDs, Gatzaros listened to the usual sales pitch. “So the guy says, ‘What if I tell you the price is right, the color temperature is right, the lumen depreciation is minimal, and the longevity is industry leading,’ ” he recalls. “He said the chips had evolved and they had a patented heat exchange system.”

Impressed, Gatzaros had several hundred lights installed in one of his office properties, the Murphy-Telegraph Building, located on Congress. And then Gatzaros took the unforeseen next step. “Before you know it, I struck a deal and opened America’s Green Line in the Murphy-Telegraph,” he says. That was late 2011, and now the company has clients around the world.

Gatzaros and his team of 20 employees have sold and installed thousands of lights. Clients include local establishments such as Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, Roy O’Brien Ford in St. Clair Shores, the Pont- chartrain Hotel in Detroit, a number of shopping centers, and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office in Detroit’s Midtown District. Other orders have come from New York, Florida, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois, as well as Sweden, Russia, and the Bahamas.

Gatzaros also installed a handful of lights atop the Murphy-Telegraph Building, where the London Chop House is located. “It’s like it’s daytime at night, you see clearly, and you find locations with security cameras operate much better,” he says. “With better lighting, the performance of existing cameras goes up 40 percent in terms of resolution.”

Apart from energy savings and brighter lighting, the LED lights are eligible for incentives. Working with a utility like DTE Energy, customers receive a rebate on the lights — up to 25 percent. “Since you’re using fewer BTUs indoors, that means less electricity is needed to power an air conditioner,” Gatzaros says. “Michigan has a great rebate program.”

Available in four different styles, from indoor ceiling lights to outdoor installations, America’s Green Line offers a 10-year warranty on most fixtures. “Your signage also shows up better at night,” Gatzaros adds. db

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