Texas School District Lighting Project Boosts Bottom Line
By Dan Hounsell, Editor January 2013 - Lighting
Al Gallardo needed results. And fast. Gallardo, who had just taken over the job of energy manager with Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, wanted to reduce the district's utility costs quickly, and he knew just where to start to achieve quick paybacks.
"I knew I had to target the HVAC and lighting systems, and I knew that what I could do on HVAC quickly was minimal," Gallardo says. What Gallardo did to achieve his goal was plan a series of lighting retrofits in many of the district's 65 schools. The district's results have been impressive, and Gallardo's planning and specification processes can provide a framework for similar projects.
The district began the lighting retrofits in 2009 after a decision to develop its own in-house energy management plan. The schools' existing lighting systems were functional, but the light quality was unsatisfactory in many areas. Gallardo also was seeking greater energy efficiency.
"That was the technology that was available back then," Gallardo says. "But that's why all these other campuses became a priority. They had all these T12s still left."
The retrofits often targeted gyms and cafeterias because of the poor and inconsistent lighting in those areas.
"They tend to put these huge 400-watt metal halide fixtures and these big bulbs" in the combination cafeteria-gymnasiums, he says. "You walk in there two years after they're installed, and you see 18 foot-candles on the floor, which is really, really poor."
Gallardo's observations during walk-through audits led him to determine that every campus needed at least one gym or cafeteria upgraded with new T5 lighting. Also, campuses with T12 lamps throughout were upgraded to T8 lamps.
"To maximize the potential savings of a lighting retrofit, it was important to not simply perform a one-to-one fixture replacement and reduce the wattage," he says. "I completely redesigned gym fixtures to maximize foot-candles at the gym floor, and I redesigned the lighting over the bleachers to reduce the light levels to an appropriate lighting level. Light levels were also adjusted to reflect the level of competitive play."
Improving light levels in classrooms also was important.
"We went with a brighter color," he says. "My concern was that, if we drop the wattage too much, what is the performance going to be? Especially since we're coupling with that superefficient ballast with (an) 0.77 (ballast factor). So I wanted to see if we could compensate with the color."