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Archives > November 2012 > ActiveLED Lighting--Big Savings in Higher-Ed Helps Maximize Funds for Teaching

ActiveLED Lighting--Big Savings in Higher-Ed Helps Maximize Funds for Teaching

Optimizing future budgets by saving money on operations allows higher education, and other campus-based institutions, to allocate those saved dollars for teaching and training students or keeping vital staff members on campus. Operational costs can be significantly reduced by employing state-of-the-art lighting and controls for covered parking structures.

By: Klaus Bollmann


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 by 7, 365 days per year) costs the school or hospital around 30,000 dollars plus 2,500 dollars in annual maintenance and another 1,000 dollars for disposal of mercury laden tubes or High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps.

When using an ActiveLED fixture, you reduce the annual running cost to around 3,000 dollars for that location. Instead of just turning the fixture or half the fixture off on conventional lights, ActiveLED’s are seamlessly dimmable and have built-in motion sensor controls which are programmable based on customer needs.

Reducing running costs of education facilities, to have more money to spend on classroom education, just makes good sense. One area of significant cost is covered parking structures in education environments that operate round the clock all year-round.

Fundamentally, universities and corporations have to move away from hazardous materials like fluorescent tubes and bulbs, if they want to limit their exposure to being legally liable—to having to test their 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, fallen down and broken on impact or destroyed by vandals in the same spot, dangerous levels of mercury may be present in that area. OSHA has a number of pamphlets that you can easily obtain regarding Mercury in Fluorescent Tubes and Bulbs, and 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 not contain Hazardous Material and Mercury, 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, makers 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 ActiveLED 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 misinformation 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 in preference to higher spot intensity is desired.

Get under a new 400 Watt HPS lamp hung at 35 feet and look at the ground; your eyes will hurt as a result of a lot of high intensity in one wavelength that heat up the receptors on your retinas. ActiveLED street lights, 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 as well as lower fatigue to the eye and no excessive amount of blue.

You should be in the range of 2700K and 5500K for any LED light because high quality white LED light is composed from polarized blue light and random polarized other wavelength, making it appear white. When fixtures are the 6000K and above range, the LED manufacturer has allowed more polarized blue light to exit the structure, and thus you will have the same effects on your eyes as with HPS lamps.

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 ActiveLED 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 a 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.

A new system must be easy to deploy. When an existing electrical infrastructure is in place, a fixture that can provide sufficient or better light output when mounted in the same spot is ideal. In all three described cases, there was an HID to ActiveLED conversion using the existing electrical infrastructure. Although ActiveLED lights can be networked by wire or ZigBee radio link, the additional cost of wiring is often unattractive. The ActiveLED 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 you are likely to be getting the maximum possible energy savings.

As a pedestrian or vehicle 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 time-out so that the device can be adjusted for the application.

Often maintenance crew staffing and hours are curtailed without appreciation of the consequences, leaving fewer staff to deal with more problems. Deploying ActiveLED 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 reprogram the Default or On Light Level, the Low or Off Light Level, the Warning Timeout and the Active Rest timeout.

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 dollar saved in indoor lighting is an additional dollar saved in air-conditioning.

Yes, there is an initial investment but the payback is fewer than three 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

In conclusion, it makes sense to consider the savings as they can contribute to a full year’s salary for someone, 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.



About The Author
Klaus Bollmann

is a 30 year veteran in energy conservation, resource saving innovative products for a sustainable environment. If you are interested in ActiveLED high performance lighting and energy saving control products, visit ActiveLED.



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