Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Big Savings in Higher-Ed Can Help Maximize Funds for Teaching

If you are living or working on a University or a Hospital Campus, and are using covered parking facilities, you will know that lights are on all the time. And there is a reason, security is paramount so the facility management people leave the lights running on purpose.
However, many of those parking structures have either been built a long time ago using conventional light fixtures or they have been designed without the new technologies in mind that are available today.
A parking garage with 350 light fittings consuming 120 watts each 24 hours a day and all year-round costs the school or hospital around 30,000 dollars plus 2,500 dollars in annual maintenance to keep up with broken bulbs and another 1,000 dollars for disposal of mercury laden tubes or High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps.
When using an LED fixture which is seamlessly dimmable and has a built-in motion sensor and controls, a finely programmable low-level, instead of just going off or turning half the fixture off, and programmable time-outs as well as Active Rest mode, the annual running cost reduces to around 3,000 dollars for that location.
Reducing running costs of education facilities to have more money to spend on classroom education makes good sense. One area of significant cost is covered parking structures in education environments that operate round the clock all year-round.
Fundamentally you have to move away from hazardous materials like fluorescent tubes and bulbs if you want to limit your exposure to being legally exposed to having to test your buildings for mercury from broken bulbs and tubes that may have accidentally broken in the past. If bulbs have repeatedly broken in the same fixture, that is fallen down and broken on impact or were destroyed by vandals in the same spot, dangerous levels of mercury may be in that area. OSHA has a number of pamphlets that you can easily obtain regarding Mercury in Fluorescent Tubes and Bulbs, how to deal with training of staff and employees and generally all users of the area as well as warning signs.
New technologies like LED do truly not suffer from the Hazardous Material and Mercury issue so no HazMat procedures have to be in place. When LEDs are broken they do not expose any hazardous chemicals and all its' components are fully recyclable.
However, not all LED lights are created equal. Many if not most makes of LED replacement lamps want to take the re-lamping business away from the incumbent brands and replace it with their version of product with built-in obsolescence. While a few provide truly lasting products built for permanence, which is desirable in a structure that will generally outlast the next 10 years.
In three case studies, The Aventura in Dallas, St. Edwards University in Austin and Staff Parking for the City of Iowa, the savings from employing LED with built-in controls were in excess of 80% for Iowa and The Aventura and a little less for St. Edwards as some of the older lights on top of the structure were not replaced due to budget constraints.
A lot of dis-information is provided by incumbent lighting representatives trying to hold on to their light- and mercury-polluting as well as energy-wasting technology.
It is important to know that over-lighting a place does nothing for security cameras other than making a surveillance area look spotty, more even lighting is desisred in preference to higher spot intensity.

Color Temperature 
Get under a new 400 Watt HPS lamp hung at 35 feet and look at the ground, you will find your eyes physically hurt. This is a lot of high intensity in one wavelength heating up your receptors in your retina. LED street light or shoe box fixtures with a 5000K color temperature have a pleasant white light close to daylight with a full spectrum providing higher levels of security and lower fatigue to the eye and no excessive amount of blue.

Why you should be in the range of 2700K and 5500K for any LED light is the fact that high quality white LED light is composed from polarized blue light and random polarized other wavelength making it appear white. When going in the 6000K and above range the LED manufacturer has allowed more polarized blue light to exit the structure and you will have the same effects on your eyes as with HPS lamps.
For the most when lit by 5000K to 5500K a neutral daylight feel of lighting is most practical and also appears to be the best color temperature for color security cameras. All three customers used 5200K LED light fixtures.
In all three parking structures the height of the fixtures off the floor was 8.5 to 9 feet. Which made it important to use canopy fixture that could be pendant mounted as well as surface mounted and have no glare in the driving direction. A light fixture with a shroud shielding the driving direction and targeting to the parking bay and the driveway underneath was selected. A good manufacturer has safety standards that guarantee less than 4800 lumens per square inch to minimize glare and retina retention which is not possible with a single 50 watt LED module as used in lower cost light fixtures.

Emphasis has to be on the system being easy to deploy, when existing electrical infrastructure is in place a fixture that can provide sufficient or better light output when mounted in the same spot. In all three cases it was an HID to LED conversion using the existing electrical infrastructure. Although, LED lights can be networked by wire or ZigBee radio link the additional cost of wiring is often unattractive. The LED canopy fixture selected had a built-in motion sensor with a large radius so that each sensor's area overlaps the next. This way no extra hardware, software or cabling had to be deployed and likely to be getting the maximum possible energy savings.

Convenience for Users 
As a pedestrian enters the zone of a light fixture the light turns to a higher intensity allowing better spotting of the surroundings, the light will remain on for 15 minutes with no activity and then automatically turn to a lower level. It is important to specify a light fixture with built-in motion detection that the high level and the low-level are programmable from 0 to 100% as well as programmable timeout so that the device can be adjusted for the application.

Convenience for Maintenance Crew 
Often maintenance crew staffing and hours are curtailed without appreciation of the consequences leaving fewer staff to deal with more problems. Deploying LED fixtures with built-in motion cnntrol in those three locations resulted in totally reliable operations with no light loss since their installation. As newer devices are IR programmable the maintenance person can point an IR-dongle connected to a laptop computer to the light fixture and re-program the Default On Light Level, the Low or Off Light Level, the Warning Timeout and the Active Rest timeout.

In conclusion of the above it makes sense to consider the savings as they can contribute to a full year's salary of a person and in cases where a campus can take a similar policy in replacing office, public space and hallway lighting that has similar hourly usage a full salary or multiple salaries can be recovered.
Outdoor and open covered parking structures generally are not air-conditioned therefore do not benefit from energy savings as much as indoor lighting in air-conditioned space. The energy used to light a place ends up completely in heat. It takes the same amount of money for energy to cool a place as you spend lighting it. So every $ saved in indoor lighting is an additional $ saved in air-conditioning.
Yes, there is an initial investment but the payback is less than 3 years in most cases and lighting manufacturers that have decent technology that is manufactured for permanence have no problems financing a retrofit for an education establishment. If you decide to move to the next level here is what you should look out for:
  • 10 year "no light loss" guarantee
  • 5 year or longer power supply warranty
  • UL Listed Class-II Power Supply
  • Product Liability Insurance
  • Manufacturer has end of life buy back policy

  • Built-in Motion Sensor
  • Built-in Daylight Sensor Option
  • 500 Hz Flicker Free Dimming
  • IR Programmability EDSaP Standard
  • LightingFacts verified

  • A manufacturer with technical support available in your time zone

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