4  FM quick reads on lighting

1. Effective Lighting-Retrofit Technology

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, effective lighting-retrofit technology.

Commercial and institutional facilities measure the success of building retrofits in several ways, including cost savings, reduced energy use, and improved productivity of those responsible for maintaining the new technology.

One indicator of success that is difficult to quantify — yet speaks to the innovation and quality of the project — is the level of interest from peers outside the organization. A prime example of that dynamic is taking place at the University of California, Davis, where lighting retrofits are garnering a great deal of attention.

"We've had a lot of inquiries from folks in the field who have found out about the projects just by searching on the Internet," says Chris Cioni, the university's associate director of utilities.

The university's Smart Lighting Initiative has turned the campus into a lighting laboratory, thanks in part to the university's relationship with the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC), a campus demonstration and education facility that develops energy-efficient technologies. Cioni uses CLTC staff as a sounding board when considering lighting technology for retrofit projects.

Cioni, his team, and the CLTC joined forces in retrofitting fixtures in campus parking structures and surface lots. Their next projects will focus on pathways, roads, and fixtures on building exteriors. The opportunities for savings are great, considering the number of exterior fixtures on campus — 2,300 fixtures in parking structures and surface lots, as well as 700 fixtures on roads, 1,300 on pedestrian and bicycle paths, and 3,000 on building exteriors.

The Smart Lighting Initiative does include interior lighting, but Cioni concentrates solely on exterior fixtures. The university spent almost $1 million retrofitting fixtures in surface lots and parking structures, which generated about $300,000 in utility rebates. The projects also have resulted in energy savings, reduced maintenance, and improved safety.

The primary technologies the university specified for the retrofits were bi-level induction lamps, LED fixtures, and lighting controls.

"The energy savings were the first target," Cioni says. "What drove me was having those very large and prominent parking lots right near a very visible part of campus. We have a big performing arts center, and it's a focal point. Seeing these empty parking lots when I would drive in early in the morning when it was still dark, it just caught me as wasteful and a real opportunity to do something different."

Planning Successful Lighting Retrofits

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, successful lighting retrofits.

Lighting retrofits are increasingly popular because of the bottom-line benefits they offer institutional and commercial facilities. San Diego State University undertook a series of lighting retrofits in recent years, and it has specified light-emitting-diode (LED) technology for five different spaces on campus, including a lecture hall, a gymnasium, and a restroom with low ceilings that required the high-quality light that LEDs could provide.

Along with an improved quality of light, dimming capabilities in the lecture hall and the ability to run gymnasium lights at 60-65 percent capacity have contributed to the university's positive experience with LEDs, says John Eaddy, associate director of physical plant.

"Our experience has been outstanding," Eaddy says.

He has found the initial cost of LEDs to be higher than the cost of more traditional fixtures, but the reduced maintenance requirements and potential for energy savings have created a potentially lucrative payback for the university. Eaddy also looks for rebates from the state or local utility to help achieve a quicker return on investment.

"When we're going out and doing these projects, we're realistically looking for no more than a 2-1/2-year payback," Eaddy says. "We've been able to quantify and actually meet that goal, 9 out of 10 applications."

Eaddy hopes the success the university has had with T8s and LEDs for indoor applications translates to exterior applications. The university has retrofitted six parking structures with 32-watt T8 lamps and is conducting a test on the use of LEDs in campus streetlights.

Lighting projects continue at San Diego State, and contributions from the university's students will play a pivotal role, given their past interest in helping collect data for planning retrofits. As Eaddy discovered, the students' passion for working together with the physical plant department benefits the facilities, their operations and the university as a whole.

Occupancy Sensors Need Not Leave Occupants in the Dark, Shorten Lamp Life

Today's tip comes from James Piper, contributing editor for Building Operating Management magazine: Properly installed occupancy sensors won't leave occupants in the dark or reduce lamp life.

One of the biggest complaints concerning the occupancy sensor is that it can leave occupants in the dark if it falsely believes that the space is unoccupied. Most occupancy sensors work by detecting motion. Once detected, the sensor turns the lights on for a preset amount of time. Each time that motion is detected, the sensor's timer is reset. If no motion is sensed and the timer reaches its preset interval, the lights are turned off. If the space is still in use, the occupants can be left in the dark.

In most cases, the failure to detect occupants is the result of installation or application errors. To be effective the sensor needs to be able to see all or most of the space. Sensors have a limited viewing range and angle. Objects within the space or unusual room configurations can partially block the view of sensors, resulting in false readings. By selecting the right type of occupancy control and by properly placing that control, most false readings can be eliminated. If there still are concerns about leaving occupants in the dark, a single, low wattage fixture can be left switched on at all times to provide backup lighting.

A related concern is that, as a result of their frequent on off cycles, occupancy sensors kill lamp life. While there is no question that this frequent cycling does reduce lamp life as measured by total operating hours, it can actually extend the calendar life of the lamps, particularly in applications where light is only needed a small fraction of the time.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


lighting , retrofits

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