The Retrofit Companies Blog

Small Business Rebate Program Deadline: Oct. 19!


 

cash backAre you a Small Business planning a lighting upgrade project this year? 

You may qualify for great rebates through One-Stop Efficiency Shop (Xcel Energy), But you will need to act fast! 

 

 

 

 

What You Need to Know: 2018 Rebate Checks

The Center for Energy and Environment's One Stop Efficiency Shop is warning small businesses of rebate deadlines approaching this fall. The One-Stop Efficiency Shop is a full-service rebate program available through Xcel Energy's Minnesota service territory to small businesses with a monthly electric demand of 400 kilowatts or less.

In order to receive a rebate check through this program in 2018, please make sure to:

 

  • Submit a signed program Participation Agreement to CEE by Friday, October 19 so the project can be recorded as scheduled for installation in this program year.
  • Complete work and submit invoices to CEE by Friday, November 2.

 

Rebate checks for jobs completed in 2018 will be issued this calendar year if work is completed and invoices submitted by November 2. Jobs completed after the deadline will be rebated in 2019.

More information on Xcel Energy's other rebate programs can be found here; if you have questions or want to clarify how these deadlines may impact your project with TRC, be sure to contact your account manager or call us at 800-795-1230.

Consult a Lighting ProfessionalReady to start your lighting project? Contact our Lighting Experts to take advantage of this program.



 

 

 

 

 

Case Study - ISD #299 Caledonia Public Schools LED Upgrade

 

 

 

 

 

Case Study Interview and Project Spotlight with Craig Ihrke, ISD #299 Caledonia Public Schools Superintendent,
and Lee Morem, Facilities Director
LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings

 

Project Overview

ISD #299 Caledonia Public Schools prides themselves on empowering learners for life and their strong ties to the community. In a school district serving Caledonia and the surrounding areas, it became abundantly clear to superintendent Craig Ihrke and his team that providing a welcoming environment was a necessity. “There are a lot of things that add to the pride in our schools, and lighting is certainly one of those things, said Craig Ihrke, superintendent of Caledonia Schools. 

A complete LED lighting retrofit across both buildings “provides a brighter, more welcoming environment, but more importantly it provides a lot of energy savings. We could save up to $10,000 annually,” said Ihrke.  

Middle_High School Sign

Caledonia Area Middle School and High School 

 

The most important factor for Caledonia Schools, which include Caledonia Elementary School and the combined building for Caledonia Middle and High School, was really focusing on the potential energy savings across both buildings. Lee Morem, Facilities Director at Caledonia Schools said “The Retrofit Companies, Inc. (TRC) helped us decide that retrofitting the lights was the best course of action, and the most economical. It has been a wonderful experience to see the buildings transform.” The decision to upgrade the lighting across the entire district not only impacted the staff working in the offices, the students learning in their classrooms, but also the athletes practicing before and after school. As an added bonus, the community gets to watch their all-state caliber athletes in efficient and even lighting.  

 

 Photo Aug 23, 9 51 26 AM

Caledonia Elementary School 

 

Outdated technology throughout district 

As The Retrofit Companies, Inc. fully inspected the district with an Investment Grade Audit and their team of experts, it became clear that there were a variety of issues at play, both with the interior and exterior of each building. Exterior lighting is very important, especially when we have events in the evenings and the MN winters get pretty dark. Having quality exterior lighting is important for safety and it also gives a welcoming feeling when you enter the parking lot” said Ihrke.  

Specifically, the buildings were running on outdated technology, which resulted in a high level of lamp failure and maintenance headaches. 

“We had a lot of exterior metal halide lights that we were having a lot of trouble with. The building is 18 years old and we were seeing a lot of things start to fail, both fixtures and ballasts” said Morem. 

From a security standpoint, we had a lot of dark spots, and when we do snow removal there were a lot of areas that were not well lit. That was a motivation for sure. With this in mind, it was apparent that TRC address the light levels through design using photometric layouts.  

The Caledonia Middle/High School was also undergoing a renovation in their main gymnasium; a pivotal area of a school that is known for their impressive athletic programs. Ihrke said “The importance of having quality light in the gymnasium, especially for our strong athletic teams...we are very excited about the lighting in the gym. The light has changed drastically and people are going to notice right away.” The Retrofit Companies, Inc. partnered with Caledonia Schools during multiple district renovations, both exterior and interior projects, including new sidewalks, that all showcase the pride that the district takes in providing the best educational facilities. The district had to ensure they found a partner for their lighting upgrade that could work with the many moving parts of an entire school district, their existing projects and the schedules of community buildings that never sleep. In the end, TRC and Caledonia Schools worked together to create a smooth upgrade across all facilities.  

 

Photo Aug 23, 11 23 30 AM-1

Caledonia Area Middle and High School Gymnasium 

 

Making the Investment

“This was a peculiar project; we actually went out and created our own bid form for this project; it was very involved. Chris Wendling at TRC was very helpful in guiding us with what specifications were needed for this large project. It was very helpful to have Chris help with that part of the process. The audit that TRC provided had the existing technology, the recommended replacement, as well as additional recommendations for replacements. You could clearly see what was the best way to go” said Morem. 

When considering alternative solutions, the Investment Grade audit provided by TRC gave a clear choice as to the most economical and financially responsible solutions. 

Morem said We went from a T8 fixture, with 32 watts per lamp, to 15 watts per lamp, so we cut it in half. We were told from the outset that we would see considerable savings right away, and to take your total load and to cut it in half is substantial. I don’t know of anything else in your building system that you could do that with; you can’t cut your heating costs in half, or your cooling in half by making one change. To see over 50% of your consumption reduced with an overall better quality light, the answer was clear.”  

In fact, the proposed cost savings was a reduction in annual energy costs by 58%. Based on hours of operation, the existing energy costs under the old technology would have been $82,124. With the implemented solutions they are expected to see operating costs of $34,536.30. These savings not only came from lamp replacements but also from retrofit kits and fixtures to offer longer life solutions in areas where maintenance issues were a concern. Breaking that savings down, Caledonia School district is saving $130.38 a day.  

 

 Elementary 1st & 2nd Floor_Page_1-445118-edited

Caledonia Elementary School Light Layout 

 

Keeping it Local

TRC worked diligently to accommodate the many challenges and variables of this project. In general, summer is a busy time for schools to get projects of all kinds completed, this was no different. TRC worked with the painters when they needed to get in to paint the gym ceilings, and change their installation schedule as necessary. “These buildings never really sleep...the high school is a living organism and is always going. From people lifting weights at 5am to evening events that push 11pm.” With facilities that have such a high demand for light usage, it was imperative that TRC provide a full scope of work in their Investment Grade Audit, detailing the various parts of their buildings and their unique demands. It was very exciting to work with Retrofit (TRC) about how detailed the audit was, how everything fell together in exactly the order in which they said it would"...

"The timelines and schedules were met without any issue, and most of the times in advance. Scheduling was very easy, if there were needs for the building, the team would be flexible and work on another area. This could actually be done with school in session, that’s how easy it was to work with TRC Morem said.  

“I was also very happy to see that they hired a local contractor to sub out the work down here in the elementary building. We like to have community involved and we like to have local contractors; it’s a small community and we take pride in keeping things local” said Morem. TRC always supports the area being served, and working with a local contractor is part of the full circle of service provided that matches the TRC company values. 

 

 library

Caledonia Elementary School Library 

 

LED Lighting Transformation

The only surprise I had was how quickly an area had progressed. You return to a room and all of a sudden it is transformed. You could do this project with school operating, the crew kept things tight, clean and I was surprised at how smooth everything went.”  

 Photo Aug 23, 11 34 00 AM

Caledonia Area Middle and High School Hallway LED Lights 

 

When asked about how the new light has been received by staff and faculty, Morem said “In recent weeks as school starts to start up again, and students coming in for sports programs, we have heard many times how much brighter it is in the building, noticing things they have never noticed before” even if that means needing a fresh coat of paint on the walls. “Especially the impact at night, the color and the quality of light makes an impact. It’s almost like you are getting a new chance at a new room.”  

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant
 

Rebate Cuts Proposed by Xcel Energy


 

led stock photoAre you planning a lighting upgrade project this year? 

Your rebates through Xcel Energy may be changing as soon as September, 2018. 
 

 

 

 

Will these changes impact me?

New rebate levels have been proposed in Minnesota to the Xcel Energy Commercial Lighting Efficiency Program. If approved, these changes may go into effect as early as September 1, 2018. If you are planning a lighting project this year, the new details of Xcel's rebate program may impact you.

More information on Xcel Energy's rebate programs can be found here; if you have questions or want to clarify how this will impact your project with TRC, be sure to contact your account manager or call us at 800-795-1230.

 

 

xcel rebate proposed changes
Rebate Categories with Proposed Changes:
 
  • LED troffers
  • LED exterior lighting
  • Lighting Controls
  • Shelf-stocking LED lamps
  • Fluorescents

 

Download Xcel Energy Rebate Changes
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Customer Spotlight - Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

 Algona Lobby

Algona Municipal Utilities
Algona, MN
  
"In the process we were able to reduce the amount of energy we use per fixture by 45-50%." - Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

Located in the small town of Algona, Iowa, approximately 3 hours south of the Twin Cities, the Algona Municipal Utilities (AMU) recently renovated their office building. AMU supplies electric, water, cable, internet, and phone to Algona and the surrounding areas and always strives for energy conservation and efficiency. Built in 2003, this office not only needed some remodeling to better suit the needs of their employees and customers, but they also quickly realized that they wanted to couple this remodel with some important lighting upgrades throughout the facility. Ken Gleason, a Senior Sales Executive at The Retrofit Companies, Inc., has been working with Algona and the surrounding areas for 11 years, and was pleased to partner with them for this project. Ken and Steve Grandgenett, the Safety and Energy Efficiency Coordinator at AMU, discussed the priorities of the project, what their company was striving for, and determined their main goals were both aesthetic upgrades to match the look and feel of their office, as well as address energy conservation. Energy reduction and efficiency are cornerstones of both AMU and TRC, making for a very well suited business partnership. 

Photo May 15, 10 00 26 AM

 

An office remodel often brings forward some lighting issues that can be easily addressed with the proper expertise, and AMU quickly noticed some problems throughout their space. Uneven light levels throughout conference rooms, offices and common areas, as well as frequently failing lamps and ballasts were causing an unnecessary amount of maintenance. This was slowing down regular business, reducing efficiency of their staff and causing unnecessary out of pocket costs for operations. The remodel project also brought forth the desire to upgrade the look of the lights to match the design and functionality throughout the building. 

 

TRC met with Steve and his team to discuss their specific needs, possible solutions and was shown a fixture selection to ensure AMU found the light fixtures they were really looking for to match their decor. Our lighting experts guided them through this process by providing expertise and unique recommendations for their space. For each area of their facility, for example small spaces with no natural light versus large open areas with high ceilings and windows, multiple solutions were considered based on factors such as frequency of use, the amount of natural daylight and the types of individuals using the space and for what functions. A conference room is better suited to lighting controls, allowing meeting attendees to dim the lights for presentations on a projector, and a lobby area is better suited to controls that automatically adjust according to the amount of natural sunlight through daylight harvesting. Occupancy sensors in the office spaces, as well as new LED fixtures throughout, proved to be an integral part of the lighting redesign. 

 

When the desired solutions were identified, the project came together quickly and TRC ensured that the installation was done with no interruptions, working around employees’ schedules and also taking into consideration customer traffic. Our design team was able to use customer suggestions along with their lighting design expertise to best fit the needs of AMU.  

For this office space of approximately 8,000 square feet, we reduced the overall lighting energy consumption by 45-50%, and met the needs of all occupants. By switching to LED and smart lighting, the energy savings is equivalent to recycling 4.85 tons of waste instead of landfilling, or the equivalent of reducing greenhouse gases by 13.9 metric tons. 

After a few months of regular usage following the new lighting installations, we checked back in with Steve at AMU to see how things were going with the lighting upgrades. We were pleased to hear that employees felt the space was not only brighter and more evenly lit, but that the controls throughout the facility were truly helping out with employees’ daily functions allowing them to customize their lighting in their own offices as well as saving energy. 

 

 

Customer Spotlight Interview with Steve Grandgenett, Algona Municipal Utilities

LED Lighting Upgrade, Retrofit Light Fixtures, New LED Technology, Energy Savings

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant
 

Lakeville School District - Lighting Case Study

 

Lakeville Schools (MN) and The Retrofit Companies, Inc. (TRC) recently partnered to discuss the district’s 2 and 10 year plans at Eastview Elementary School. Both of the strategic plans included goals of implementing energy saving lighting solutions across the entire district. Specifically, the 2 and 10 year plans included exterior lighting along with a parking lot that needed to be completely replaced. The goal was to complete these projects by the end of summer 2017 before the start of the school year. These projects were a combination of replacing old, damaged light poles, with new, and replacing all of the existing inefficient exterior lighting. This school would be the first of many completed during the first two years of their strategic plan. With a goal of improving light quality, increasing light levels, while creating a standard technology for the school district, Sara Guyette of Lakeville Schools and LuAnn Verduzco of TRC developed a plan to perform a study on the exterior lighting along with a district wide study to replace all interior and exterior existing metal-halide inefficient and unsafe fixtures. Partnering with TRC, Lakeville School District was able to make an educated decision to properly address their lighting concerns while implementing energy savings.

 BEFORE W LIGHT POLLUTION-1.jpg

BEFORE: Parking lot with light pollution

PROBLEM:

The district lacked a focused energy-efficient plan that could be utilized across the board, and with multiple goals in their strategic plans, Sara and the Board saw the value in partnering with lighting design and energy efficiency experts at TRC to help them address their needs.

 AFTER NO LIGHT POLLUTION-1.jpg

AFTER: Parking Lot with no light pollution

ANALYSIS AND SOLUTION:

Lakeville partnered with TRC to conduct the district wide Investment Grade Audit to determine the full extent of their lighting needs. Photometric layouts were also provided to Lakeville Schools to ensure industry standard light levels would be installed and would meet their long term strategic goals. Through the study, Lakeville decided to move forward and requested competing bids using the equal scope of work, fixture specifications, and performance standards. TRC was awarded the work and recommended the proper solutions and design expertise for their parking lot and exterior lighting as the first phase of their district wide strategic plan.

Lakeville photometrics.pngEastview Elementary School Exterior Photometrics

Implementing the project presented certain challenges across the board, including construction deadlines and project management for all key partners involved in the total project. With a parking lot replacement, there is a strategic plan involved all the way from coordination of materials, the architect, the sub-contractors and the building engineers being available to provide access to the building when needed.  Some unforeseen circumstances came up during the project, but TRC and all other partners involved were able to work an alternate schedule to ensure the project was wrapped up before the start of the school year. Having confidence and trust in the vendors and contractors that you use for projects is vital to timely implementation and problem solving.

BEFORE BASKETBALL-1.jpg

BEFORE: Basketball Court 

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Replace and recycle all metal halide and other inefficient fixtures
  • Drastically improved light quality, distribution and levels
  • Decreased lighting energy costs by 44%
  • Annual energy savings of $2,500.00/yr.
  • Simple payback of 7.35 years
  • Cut maintenance costs, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty, minimum of 10 year life rating on new fixture components
  • New fixtures contain no mercury and are much better for the environment

AFTER BASKETBALL-1.jpg

AFTER: Basketball Court

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

  • Carbon Savings: greenhouse gas reduction metric tons equivalent to 22.7
  • Passenger cars not driven for one year: 4.4
  • Gallons of gasoline saved: 2,540.50
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation: 0.22
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled: 7.90

 

Schedule a call with our lighting consultant

What are the other benefits of upgraded lighting?

six-other-reasons-to-retrofit.jpg

Since starting this blog, The Retrofit Companies has worked to share our lighting retrofit case studies and stories about lighting retrofit projects that address a range of topics beyond energy-savings and efficiency. However, we know your time is valuable, and you probably don't have an hour or two to find each one and read them all. So, this post summarizes a few topics that are very relevant in today's lighting project landscape. Each of these projects started saving money and energy as soon as the project was completed, but they also address other project goals. Keep reading to see six lighting design and retrofit projects that summarize a few priorities, aside from efficiency and financial savings, that clients have brought to us when we discussed their project goals.

1 FUNCTION: "We need a lighting system that just works better."

It doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes clients come to us looking for a lighting solution to make their lighting system work better for them, overall. In this case study, the facility needed a sustainable, controllable, maintenance-saving lighting system. The existing system in their large production area was all on or all off, no controllability at all. It was also using outdated T12 fluorescent technology. The solution was a combo T8 and LED design with dimming and sensors on the control system. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

2 ONE PIECE AT A TIME: "It's better for us if we don't retrofit EVERYTHING NOW."

Sometimes, a client doesn't have the budget to do an entire project all at once, but they know that a strategic plan of attack can still have dramatic results. When clients decide to address major areas of concern first, or because their budgets necessitate it, they simply do several smaller projects over time. Whether the project is exterior parking lot lights, a gymnasium, or simply common areas like hallways, every reduction in usage can help. This case study shows how one school converted T8 fixtures to a slimmer, lower maintenance cost LED fixture to achieve better aesthetics, more energy savings, and reduced maintenance expenses. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

3 RELIABLE DESIGN: A CAUTIONARY TALE FOR THOSE COMPARING "SIMILAR" proposals

This one is a little more difficult to summarize in under a hundred words, so if this applies to you we recommend clicking through, and also downloading the ebook about investment grade audits. Here's the 10,000 foot view: a lighting redesign project was put together, but one digit in a part number was off, and the project came out a failure. Using the SAME fixture, with correct optics a second time, yielded positive results. Now imagine if this were your project and you were in a position to compare multiple fixtures, from multiple vendors. How could you be sure you're getting the results you want and need? CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

4 WE ARE EFFICIENT: "We already have T8 fixtures, why upgrade?"

Not every project results in dramatically improved lighting, and impressive before and after photos. You may even have a relatively efficient T8 fluorescent system in place now; however, improvements in LED and controls systems can yield impressive results in other ways. In this warehouse's energy efficient redesign project, the customer reduced the number of fixtures in use, decreased maintenance, improved controls with sensors, and of course, they are saving almost $5k in annual lighting costs. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

5 SAFETY, MAINTENANCE & AESTHETICS: Thoughtful design results keep on giving!

Here a client came to us with an idea in mind, he even had a fixture chosen and several goals to achieve. Read this one to see how a custom design improved energy-efficiency AND improved the look of the fixtures, reduced maintenance expenses, and improved safety on site. Remember that great planning and utilizing the correct LED optics in your new design vs simply retrofitting one-for-one with an efficient fixture can bring your project to the next level and meet a range of goals! CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

6 SOLUTION FOR MULtIPLE LOCATIONS: Again with the importance of planning? Yes.

This last one has some really impressive before & after photos, but the importance of noting this is to showcase one last time how planning ahead will yield the best results. We interview a client about their decision to beta test a solution for multiple locations nationwide, and hear from the lighting rep on the project about some aspects of planning. CLICK TO READ THE ARTICLE

If you're on the decision-making road to energy efficient lighting projects and planning, we recommend arming yourself with as much info as you can so you can ask smart questions. 

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

Retrofit Case Study: Interior and Exterior Lighting Upgrades

t8-and-incandescent-side-by-side-retrofit.jpg

This church and school decided it was time to update the look of their facility and invest in energy-efficiency by implementing this full facility lighting upgrade and retrofit. The areas addressed in this project ranged from office and classrooms, to a gymnasium/auditorium, and a sanctuary space that required a dynamic lighting control system.

While some fixtures were in fine condition, others needed to be replaced. One major project requirement was to be sure that all the lighting was appropriate for the spaces, since this building had such varied spaces and uses. TRC lighting consultants built a custom lighting system for each area to maximize energy savings. Another goals for this project was to streamline technology, remove all inefficient lighting like T12 fluorescent and aging CFL lamps, and to replace those with more efficient T8 fluorescent and LED options. The result is that the client does not need to stock as many varieties of lamps now, because more fixtures are using the same lamp type, or a long life technology (LED) was installed.

Take a look how this institution is using LED updates to control costs, mitigate maintenance expenses, AND save energy! 

Before-and-After-Gym-Retrofit.jpg

Environmental Impact (Carbon Savings)

  • Total Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 40.2 Metric Tons
  • 7.9 Passenger cars not driven for one year
  • 4,507.8 Gallons of gasoline saved 
  • 0.4 Acres of forest preserved from deforestation
  • 14.01 Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled

The new exterior fixtures are more subdued, they blend into the surroundings and they protect the night sky by directing light only to the ground and not upward as the old globes did. The structure of the new fixtures also prevent light pollution by avoiding any upward directional light.

parking-lot-fixtures-before-and-after.jpg

 PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • Inefficient T12 & CFL fixtures retrofitted
  • All old lamps removed & responsibly recycled
  • Color temperatures unified in each area for a better look
  • New lighting layout for maximum efficiency in sanctuary
  • Decreased kW& kWh by ~60% overall
  • Project rebate over $13,00
  • Annual savings over $6,600 / nearly $550 a month!
  • New LED system in sanctuary is programmable
  • Cut maintenance costs with long life technology
  • Modern LED exterior fixtures protect night sky

 We urge you to read about more lighting project case studies, or get our e-book "How Much Does a Retrofit Cost?"

 Read more lighting case studies

Lighting Redesign Using LED Technology

A lot of the time, we judge lighting projects on the very dramatic before and after photos we see. That's certainly a very interesting and immediate way to judge success of a project, does it look better afterward? Well, not all projects look dramatically different before and after, even in the case of this lighting redesign. However, the results for this project are dramatic and easily measured. Keep reading and find out how this facility is saving almost $5k in lighting costs and more than $1k in anticipated maintenance expenses every year.

LED Lighting before and after

This warehouse facility originally housed 153 T8 High Bay fixtures, utilizing 32 watt and 25 watt lamps in 4 and 6 lamp configurations. The maintenance team was responsible for nearly 800 individual lamps. Visible in the before photo above, you can see the space was fairly well lit, but there were some shadows on the ceiling. In the after photo, you can see that new lighting in the same warehouse seems slightly brighter. The stunning thing about this comparison is that a total of 82 individual fixtures were removed from the design to decrease energy usage while still delivering a high quality light to allow tasks to be safely completed in this space! Additionally, a new controls system was installed to better manage how and when these lights are in use.

PROJECT GOALS & SUCCESSES

  • 6L T8 32 watt and 25 watt fixture configurations were retired & recycled
  • 82 unnecessary fixtures removed from use!
  • New LED lighting design improves efficiency and light quality
  • Decreased kWh 79% overall - incredible!!
  • Project rebate $6,500
  • Annual savings over $4,758
  • New LED fixtures with programmable sensors to reduce burn hours
  • New fixtures have High Bay or Aisle optics for best light distribution
  • Estimated savings of $1,300 in annual maintenance expenses, new fixtures have 5 yr warranty!
  • New fixtures contain no mercury
  • New system integrates a control system with motion sensors! See the video.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

CARBON SAVINGS: Total greenhouse gas reduction Metric Tons equivalent to: 30

  • Passenger cars not driven for one year 5.9
  • Gallons of gasoline saved 3,358.1
  • Acres of forest preserved from deforestation 0.3 
  • Tons of waste recycled vs. land filled 10.44

Lighting Redesign Before and After Photos

In this second set of before and after photos, we see a similar result. The change is not too drastic, but we see light filling the room a little more and the ceiling is brighter in the After photo. Warehouse lighting varies from facility to facility, so you shouldn't sign on for any cookie-cutter project; look for solutions that fit the work you do. To achieve the goals set forward by this organization, TRC completed an investment grade audit prior to the project. Thanks for reading this lighting retrofit case study and redesign summary. To find more information about Investment Grade Audits, you can read our blog post on that, or download the ebook!

E-book: Why should you invest in a lighting study?  

The Future of Lighting Controls

Lighting controls range from fully automated control systems managed by computer programs, to less technological, manual methods. The most direct savings come from actual wattage reduction, but adding controls to your lighting retrofit project can dramatically impact energy savings. There are several proven  ways to successfully control a lighting system; we're going to share some thoughts today on the future of lighting controls. These considerations and innovations are things you should be aware of when considering a new or updated lighting system.

INTEROPERABLE SYSTEMS

Control systems of the future will utilize multiple technologies to achieve savings. Lighting manufacturers, designers, and installers will pair photocells with motion controls, and employ dual-end trimming capability. These innovations will not only save energy and money, but they can extend the useful life of your lighting technology. The end goal of successful lighting design, aside from increased energy efficiency, is to get the light you need, where you need it, when you need it.The future also includes sustainability as a priority of successful design. One way to achieve that is to use technology pairings, like those mentioned above or others, to your advantage when designing a new system.

END USER PERSONALIZATION

Because so much new technology is at our disposal, control systems have become increasingly end-user personalized. Some can even be controlled with your mobile phone. Lighting manufacturer Philips has embraced this trend with products Hue, Spacewise, and Simpleset. While some of these products still seem like novelties, they have become more prevalent, more affordable, and easier to put into use than ever. We expect to see these products more widely available from more manufacturers.

CHANGES IN LEGISLATION

Finally, we know that legislation will continue to impact and increase the need for controls in new construction and existing facilities. The Energy Efficiency Building Improvement Act of 2015, California Title 24, and ASHRAE, are examples of legislation or rules that impact lighting efficiency. There are various standards existing for energy conservation ranging from federal to municipal rules. Some municipalities have their own lighting regulations. Bloomington, MN for example has strict restrictions on light pollution for outdoor projects and specific fixtures must specified to do a lighting project there. Control systems will become more and more prevalent as a result of legislation and as the desire to conserve resources remains a priority.

 

There are virtually endless ways to control lighting and many help to maximize energy savings. Most of the technologies are relatively easy to implement alongside your lighting upgrade to increase savings. Most of them can even be installed or carried out after a lighting project is completed. We foresee "control retrofitting" for existing energy-efficient systems for users that are looking for additional ways to increase savings and who want to gain more control over their lighting.

HOW COULD IT IMPACT YOU?

What does this all mean for the consumer of lighting products and those buying upgraded lighting systems? The two primary impacts we see are,

1) it has become increasingly difficult for lighting designers and other electricians, architects, or contractors to specify lighting projects, and

2) buying off the shelf will not work. Modern lighting technology can be configured in endless ways, literally hundreds of thousands of different light bulbs exist, and no one can know them all. Consumers should be wary of one-size-fits-all solutions, and look for knowledgeable lighting designers, or speak to multiple product representatives to educate them on available lighting solutions.

Finally, consumers must remember that everything comes with a cost. More features generally means a higher expense. You may not need all the bells and whistles, and the investment in lighting controls may be less than you think once you have a good design in place. Knowing your options before you purchase any type of lighting project or products will help you get the light you want for the job you're doing, now or in the future!

Need to know more about how to talk to lighting contractors in order to get the project or products you need? Get our guide, 11 Questions to Ask a Contractor.

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

Lighting a Building Exterior: Secure, Efficient & Well Designed

Exterior-lighting-design.jpg

POST UPDATED JUNE 2016

There are many things to consider when lighting the inside of your facility, but your nighttime exterior lights should be an equal concern. Do you have enough light for people to safely navigate around your walkways and parking areas at night? Are you positive you aren’t over-lighting, wasting energy and polluting the night sky with extra light? There is a fine line to stride when it comes to designing the best exterior lighting system for your building. When you mindfully design an exterior lighting system, these components come into balance and it is relatively easy to achieve a night time environment that saves energy, offers quality light and does not waste energy or spill light into unwanted areas.

Avoiding Light Pollution

One modern lighting concern when it comes to exterior lighting applications is light pollution. Light pollution factors include Glare, Light Trespass and Reflected Light. When a lighting designer chooses the correct fixtures for each area of your outdoor lighting, with the correct amount of light specified, these three factors are negated. Here’s an easy definition of each:

Glare is a visual sensation caused by excessive and uncontrolled brightness. It can be disabling or simply uncomfortable. It is subjective, and sensitivity to glare can vary widely. Source

Light trespass occurs when spill light is cast where it is not wanted. Light trespass is somewhat subjective because it is difficult to define when, where, and how much light is unwanted. An example of light trespass is when spill light from a streetlight or floodlight enters a window and illuminates an indoor area. Proper aiming of the floodlight and shielding would significantly reduce the light trespass. Source

Reflected light happens where extra light is cast off of surfaces and directed into areas where it is not required, but it can also be light that reflects off of surfaces you intend to light, such as sidewalks and parking lots. Some amount of reflected light is unavoidable, but to cut down on reflected light and “Sky Glow” be sure that light levels are appropriate and that areas are not over-lit.

Night Time Safety Concerns

Safety is a big reason for lighting your building exterior at night. Of course, people need to be able to travel on foot or by vehicles safely around your facility at night, but this can also include dusky hours early or late in the day in areas that are particularly shadowy. Walkways, parking areas, loading docks and entry spaces should all be lit for the safety of people working, walking or driving in these areas.

Many buildings also have wall fixtures on the sides of buildings wash light over and around windows. These lights reduce shadowy areas and increase a feeling of security, while giving light to areas where security cameras may be pointed. These safety measures lead us to the next point: Recommended Light Levels. Recommended levels are also primarily based on safety and security functions and can help reduce crime and instances of vandalism.

Light Levels for Exterior Lighting Applications

IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) recommended light levels for most exterior lighting applications ranges from a minimum .2 foot candles in low traffic outdoor parking areas, up to 2 foot candles for buildings and large open areas. A minimum of 5 foot candles is recommended in pedestrian areas and entrances. Keep in mind that these figures are recommendations, and that state and local standards can be found in local building codes, which should be consulted when designing a lighting system. The goal with these recommended levels is to use as much light as needed without over-lighting which results in wasted energy and light pollution.

Light Quality for Exterior Lighting Applications

While light level recommendations should be carefully regarded, the quality of light you need for exterior applications should not be overlooked. What does “Light Quality” mean exactly? A quick explanation compares two types of light that are probably familiar to you. First, imagine the common orange light (high pressure sodium technology) that you have seen in parking lots and street lights for many years. This orange colored light seemingly washes out the ability to distinctly identify other colors; making objects and people under this type of light seem grayish. Now think of places you may have recently been with fluorescent or LED lighting, maybe a parking ramp, and compare how the colors of the cars were more distinct – you could likely identify navy blue or dark green from black vehicles. You probably felt like the light was brighter in the fluorescent or LED lit environment.

In fact, it’s entirely possible that these two scenarios could be lit with exactly the same amount of foot candles and there’s nearly a 100% chance that the high pressure sodium (orange) was using multiple times more energy than the fluorescent or LED lights. The difference is light quality, the CRI (Color Rendering Index) of the lamps used in the fixtures. The high pressure sodium lighting has a very low CRI, but can use hundreds of watts of energy. Fluorescent and LED lighting both have higher CRI’s than High Pressure Sodium, and the most up-to-date iterations are energy-efficient. It’s also important to note that with LED technology, the spread of light has been precisely engineered to reduce areas of high and low light to give a very even area of light coverage. The conclusion here is that “higher watts” does not necessarily equal more light or better light quality.

Reducing Maintenance Costs with Modern Lighting Technology

By renovating your lighting technology, you save energy and thusly, you save money. However, another important retrofitting savings factor for outdoor (or any difficult to reach area) is the savings achieved through reduction in maintenance costs. There are three ways you can recognize maintenance savings:

  • By streamlining technology and having just 2 or 3 different lighting technologies (bulbs and ballasts) throughout your facility, you do not need to keep as much replacement material in stock.
  • Your new lighting technology for exterior applications, LED especially, will have a long lamp life that reduces the amount of maintenance hours required to upkeep your exterior lighting. Some LED products have anticipated life of 50,000 hours and up. Even some fluorescent lamps advertise ‘extra-long life’ nearing 40,000 hours of burn time.
  • As lamps get older, their light output decreases, but they still use the same amount of energy. When all your lamps are upgraded or retrofitted at the same time, it is a good idea to plan on a group relamp. This means instead of replacing lamps as they burn out (spot relamp); you choose to relamp the entire system at the 70-80% rated lamp life. By adopting this procedure you ensure regular intervals of maintenance are planned in your budget, and you give yourself the opportunity to make planned improvements or upgrades to your lighting system at the point of greatest return.


How to Save Energy, Get the Light you need and conserve the night sky

Design your outdoor lighting for maximum efficiency and night sky conservation by choosing the right fixtures and the right system layout. Most lighting contractors will be able to provide you with solutions to meet these needs and a model that shows anticipated light levels. If a comparison between your existing and proposed new lighting systems is available, you will likely be surprised to find out how many inefficiencies and potentially light-polluting issues can be resolved with energy-saving fixtures that are built to reduce glare and light trespass. Consider these elements, plus improved safety and maintenance savings when you are ready to make changes to your exterior lighting system. The decision between upgrading and not upgrading gets easier the more you know!

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