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Lighting Retrofit Solution Gives Historic Building a Modern Makeover

Lighting Retrofit Solution Gives Historic Building a Modern Makeover

The historic Rose Building in Cleveland is one of the city’s premier steel-frame buildings, and was once the tallest office building between New York City and Chicago.  Built in 1900, it is has served as the headquarters for health insurance leader Medical Mutual of Ohio since 1948. While the building is honorably listed on the National Register of Historic Places, its old lighting system was not delivering ideal light quality or energy-efficiency.

The Right Opportunity to Retrofit
In late 2011, Medical Mutual began to explore a more energy-efficient lighting solution.

“We had been looking into a lighting upgrade for some time,” said Don Green, Medical Mutual of Ohio director of building and general services.  “We recognized the impending phase-out of T12 lamps provided an opportunity to choose a more energy-efficient lamp and ballast, reducing our energy-consumption and utility costs.

“We also knew examining our energy use and taking steps to reduce it was the proper thing to do in terms of environmental responsibility.  Finally, there were some financial drivers that indicated the time was right for an updated lighting system.”

A long time business partner of Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), Northeast Ohio’s largest small business support organization, Medical Mutual joined the organization’s Energy Services Program for support.  COSE referred Medical Mutual to ECO Engineering (Cincinnati, Ohio), whom they contacted to review and assess Medical Mutual’s headquarters.

After conducting a lighting audit, ECO Engineering confirmed Medical Mutual would greatly benefit from a lighting retrofit in the Rose Building.  The size of the company’s headquarters - with 16 floors (including an annex) and 381,000 square feet - and a very outdated lighting system of nearly 3,000 T12 deep cell parabolic fixtures provided the right opportunity to make a big impact.

ECO Engineering’s Matt Minard, who led the investigation and managed the project, saw potential. “The size of the building, number of light fixtures, and outdated lighting system, all paired with the overall energy savings, made this building a good investment for a lighting upgrade,” said Minard.

A Unique Lighting Challenge
While there was certainly an excellent opportunity to upgrade the Rose Building’s lighting system, there were still a number of challenges.

“The first challenge was determining how to maintain a light level that everyone would accept,” said Minard.  “With the deep cell parabolics previously in place, employees were actually taking lamps out of fixtures. The lamps over their desks were too bright; they only needed one bulb.  In response, other employees complained it was too dark when bulbs were reduced.”  

“We really wanted to improve the lighting environment for employees,” Green explained. “We wanted the new solution to have a more soothing effect, with much less glare.”

The second challenge was increasing the light efficiency in the entire space while achieving better light quality.  The goal was to reduce the cave effect and achieve energy savings.

“A main driver for us was the intent to reduce our energy consumption, which would in turn would reduce our utility/electrical expenses and have a direct result on our bottom line,” said Green.  

Reducing maintenance was also an important consideration.  Medical Mutual faces long hours of operation, with some floors in full operation 10-13 hours a day.  With outdated T12 lamps, maintenance needed to replace the lamps rather often, taking their time away from more important building operation responsibilities.

For Green and the Medical Mutual team, finding a way to install the new lighting system without disrupting the flow of business was a critical consideration. “One of the key things for us was to complete the installation after hours, during second shift, so we did not disrupt the work environment for employees during the day,” said Green.  

However, one characteristic of the old lighting solution actually turned out to be an opportunity. ECO Engineering identified an existing lighting control system by Lighting Control & Design, an Acuity Brands company, which provided the opportunity to further customize the Rose Building’s lighting renovation.

The Relight Solution
Despite the initial thought that they would have to install all new fixtures to achieve-energy efficiency, Medical Mutual discovered they could achieve superior cost and energy savings and the look of a modern fixture using advanced retrofit lighting technology. This solution went above and beyond simply upgrading lamps and ballasts at the Rose Building. ECO Engineering recommended a lighting retrofit using complete fixture kits to address all the project’s challenges and deliver a revitalized appearance.

“Since the old fixtures were deep cell parabolics we wanted to remove the unattractive lights and lenses. Most of the time with a lamp and ballast change, people in the space don’t recognize any change.

“On this scale, it was important to do something visually so people could see the difference,” Minard explained.  “We wanted to remove the old fixtures and install something new to enhance the light and save energy.”

With a retrofit kit solution in mind, Lithonia Lighting® offered the premium solution.  ECO Engineering specified more than 2,600 Lithonia Lighting 2RT8R Relight Kits to renovate Medical Mutual’s headquarters in the historic Rose Building.  

It was a simple decision for Minard. “I am very committed to Acuity Brands, and really enjoy their products.  There really isn’t any company I feel has a comparable product for retrofits.  We work well with Lithonia Lighting, and I like the look of the fixture.”

Green was confident in the solution to use a retrofit kit from the start as well. “Early on, we decided to use the Lithonia Lighting Relight retrofit kit.  It fit our needs because it is truly a turnkey approach.  We were able to maintain the integrity of the current fixtures without any major construction. Yet we still achieved the efficiency of new ballasts and T8 lamps.

“Additionally, the kits offered a cost-effective solution.  We saved on labor because there was no need to rewire.  The fast installation process also met our needs for minimal disruption to daily operations,” said Green. “Employees would leave work for the day, and would come in the next morning to a newly installed lighting solution.”

Contractor Lake Erie Electric worked throughout the night installing the fixtures, so the retrofit did not interfere with the facility’s productivity.

The Relight kit was truly the perfect lighting solution to meet all of the project’s challenges.  Each new fixture saves 61 watts compared to the previous fixtures, reducing energy use.

Medical Mutual was able to maintain the integrity of the old fixture because the Lithonia Lighting Relight kits deliver the appearance and efficiency of a modern fixture contained within the housing of the old fixture.  Relight kits are installed without breaking the ceiling plane.

Employees are enjoying a better-lit work environment.  According to Green, “Another reason this route was so attractive to us is because we are actually improving the lighting in the workplace.  We provided our employees with a more soothing light that eliminates some of the glare we had with the old T12 direct lighting.  At the same time, we are also maintaining the integrity of existing fixtures.”

Additionally, the Relight kit components have a much longer life expectancy than the outdated T12 lamps, which will result in maintenance savings.  

All of Medical Mutual’s old T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts were recycled and responsibly disposed of in accordance with state and federal guidelines, as is standard practice in this type of project. Medical Mutual can also recycle the Relight lamps and ballasts.

Finally, ECO Engineering worked with Lithonia Lighting to take advantage of the existing control panels previously installed.  

“The existing Lighting Control & Design system in the building allows the facility team to tune the wattage of the lighting floor-by-floor,” Minard explained. “So, the fixtures we specified included a step dimming ballast.  Coordinating with the existing lighting controls, the step dimming ballasts allow each floor to have unique light levels.  

“You can actually reduce input to a particular floor; you can tune it down digitally and decrease wattage output to save energy. Now, the facility group at Medical Mutual can high-end tune all the fixtures to a desired wattage.”

When Medical Mutual started tuning each floor, fixtures were dimmed gradually to a point that occupants did not notice the light level was changing. Once employees did take notice of light level changes and confirmed preferences, the controls were set at a desired level.

The step dimming ballast solution allows for better light and increased footcandles, but just at the required levels.  Wasted energy is eliminated because the exact amount of power is supplied to achieve the desired light levels on each floor.

Green and the team were pleased to identify additional energy-savings.  “This controls aspect was beneficial for us because it allowed tighter control of lighting levels.  Moving forward, we expect it will result in additional energy and cost savings,” said Green.

“What was great for Medical Mutual is this solution delivered yet another level of energy savings on top of existing efficiencies,” said Minard. “We achieved another 6-8 percent in energy savings for the building as a whole because of the controls.”

The Results
Initiated in October 2011, Medical Mutual’s lighting retrofit was completed in March 2012.  

The Relight retrofit resulted in significant energy-savings both strictly in terms of lighting and the entire building.  ECO Engineering calculated previous fixtures used 1.9 million kilowatt hours, while the new Relight fixtures only use 906,000 kilowatt hours annually.  Furthermore, because of related energy savings and a reduced air conditioning load from cooler lighting, ECO Engineering projects the Rose Building’s total annual energy use will decrease from 2.5 million kilowatt hours to 1.2 million kilowatt hours.

Minard says the visual impact is just as stunning. “It was great to see the satisfaction from people that work in the building and from people involved in the project like Don.  He was ecstatic about how it looked and the expected savings.”

Green and the entire Medical Mutual team were pleased to see immediate results. “In some cases, depending on how the installations were scheduled, one floor would be partially lit with the new fixtures and partially with the old,” explained Green. “We could see and compare the difference in light quality side by side.

“We are also very pleased with the look of the new fixtures.  The Relight kit is just more visually attractive than the old fixtures. The staff is very positive about the new lighting environment, as well as proud that we have taken steps to be more environmentally responsible. Overall, the Relight retrofit lighting upgrade has been a very positive and successful experience for Medical Mutual of Ohio.”

Project: Cleveland’s Historic Rose Building, lighting retrofit Client: Medical Mutual of Ohio Lighting Engineer: ECO Engineering Electrical Contractor: Lake Erie Electric Project Size: 381,000 square feet Lighting Solution: 2,686 Lithonia Lighting 2RT8R Relight Kits Energy Savings: saved 61 watts per fixture and reduced annual energy use by 1.3 million kilowatt hours Lighting Manufacturer: Lithonia Lighting/Acuity Brands

posted:  10/29/2012