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The lighting retrofits in the district's schools used new-generation technology to bring greater energy efficiency and higher-quality lighting.
"A typical gym or cafeteria retrofit would entail replacing 400-watt metal halide fixtures — 440 watts with ballast — with six-lamp or four-lamp T5 fixtures," Gallardo says. "Not only would wattages be reduced, but the number of fixtures would typically be cut in half. On a school classroom or office retrofit with a two-lamp T12 fixture, the lamps would be replaced with two T8, 25-watt lamps at 5,000 Kelvin and a ballast rated at a 0.77."
Gallardo's product decisions for the lighting retrofits were driven by advances in the technology at the time.
"At the time of the first retrofit, 28-watt T8 lamps were the energy-efficient standard, and (a manufacturer) had just introduced the 25-watt lamp," he says. He gathered enough samples of the lamps to retrofit one classroom at Edgemere Elementary School, and he liked the results.
When possible, Gallardo used in-house maintenance personnel to perform the retrofits, but because of their schedules, workloads and time constraints, contractors performed most of the retrofits.
"A lot of it was the access, the timing, the workload they have," he says. "I was waiting around for them an awful long time, so I had to do that. The good thing about it is that you can bring (contractors) in at night or on weekends."
Gallardo estimates the district has spent about $847,000 over the past three years including labor, on the retrofits. In return, the projects have generated total savings of about $1.7 million, which includes incentives totaling more than $217,000 received from El Paso Electric.
Given the retrofits' success, it is not surprising the district will continue with them.
"Even though we are almost completely done eliminating the T12 fixtures in the district, we plan to continue lighting retrofits," Gallardo says. "Next year, we will also be concentrating on outdoor lighting retrofits and replacements. "
While the bottom-line benefits have been appealing, Gallardo stresses that an essential component of retrofits is the improvement in lighting quality.
"We've retrofitted a gym where referees have refused to work a game because of the poor quality of the existing lights," he says. "In another case, (a retrofit took place) where the local cable company complained that the lighting was so poor they couldn't broadcast a clean picture. In classrooms, teachers notice the brighter lighting right away, and they thank us."
Lighting Retrofits Bring Savings, Efficiency to Texas School District