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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.


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