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Effective Lighting-Retrofit Technology

August 22, 2012 - Maintenance & Operations

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."


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