Green Light, Control and Action

By Susan Casey | Jul 15, 2013






You’re reading an outdated article. Please go to the recent issues to find up-to-date content.

Lighting and control technology advances and creative daylighting implementation 
are propelling green lighting practices. ECs are being called on to employ their technical and creative skills 
to install and program new products and technologies. Three very different projects—a new structure and two renovations—are good examples of green lighting schemes.

David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, Calif.

One of David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s goals for its new headquarters was to design a facility that could be replicated by any other company interested in reducing energy and adhering to sustainable building practices, at an estimated cost of $477 per square foot. How? In terms of lighting the 50,000-square-foot foundation office buildings, efforts began with the architecture. With input from the project team, the LEED-Platinum office structure was designed to fully maximize available daylight, thus minimizing the lighting demand and energy consumption. The structure produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year, making it a net-zero energy structure.

Redwood Electric Group (REG), a company with offices in Santa Clara, Vacaville and Sacramento in California and in Reno, Nev., had a $7.2 million contract with DPR Construction, a company with offices across the United States, on the $37.2 million project. REG used a 3-D building information modeling (BIM) design to coordinate the electrical system layout that included the other contractors’ activities.

“The challenges we faced were coordinating the main feeders and branch wiring with all of the ductwork and piping, while also maintaining the aesthetic values of the open floor plan,” said Mark Keys, REG division manager. “BIM was the best solution and allowed the installation to be more fluid and maintain the architecturally significant finishes.”

The building management system is also integrated into the supervisory control and data acquisition system that monitors all energy collection (a combination of the building’s solar photovoltaic system and the utility feed) and usage and then networks with the mechanical and electrical systems. REG accomplished 65 percent reduction in plug loads through the installation of the building management and power monitoring control systems.

Due to the architectural design, the northeastern side of the office building takes full advantage of the natural light provided by the morning sun. The southwestern side has wide eaves to shade the windows from the afternoon sun’s heat and glare. REG installed photocells for the Lutron EcoSystem on the roof that sense the sun’s light levels as it moves across the sky. The system controls interior shades in the office areas, and they move up and down depending on the available light in each office, allowing for illumination without heat or glare. Sensors also enable the system to dim lights in offices, and touch screens with Lutron GRAFIK Eye controllers are integrated into the audio/video system to control light levels and preset scenes in meeting rooms.

In working with many of the systems, REG was basically operating in uncharted territory.

“The biggest hurdle in incorporating all of the design and control elements was the programming,” Keys said. “Most of the systems are so new that the manufacturers were making changes to the firmware to allow communication between the different systems. It was a learn-as-you-go experience for the project team and the manufacturers.”

Mike Humphrey, project executive for DPR Construction, echoed that thought. “It was a very interesting, ground-breaking job,” he said. “To create a net-zero-energy building and tie together the kind of systems that we did was very demanding. Redwood Electric was tying in electrical shades and electrical window operators, things that aren’t usually included. Those systems are new enough and complicated enough and tricky to put in. Redwood Electric really stayed with us the whole way to make sure they managed the whole thing. I’m very proud to be working with them and enjoy the teamwork with them, especially since so many of the systems were new.”

A final aspect of the project—in which REG was involved—contributed to the accomplishment of net-zero energy; dashboards for use by employees enable them to monitor their own energy use or the energy to power printers and other 
desktop items.

Maplewood Mall, Maplewood, Minn.

Malls across the country are being renovated to attract customers and improve energy efficiency. The 140,000-square-foot Maplewood Mall (Maplewood, Minn.) was selected as the Best Project Retail/Mixed-Use Development in 2012 by ENR Midwest.

“Before the renovation, there were false ceilings and ­covered-up skylights. One of the efforts of the remodel was to open up the skylights and simplify the ceiling,” said Deb Edwards, L.C., principal lighting designer, Lighting Matters, Minneapolis.

“Once daylight came into the open spaces, less artificial light was needed, which cut down the wattage substantially,” said Ken Busch, project manager, Egan Cos., Brooklyn Park, Minn., the electrical contractor on the project.

Next came the addition of LEDs. But not just for function.

“There were lots of high-wattage light fixtures in the ceiling that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. We realized that the volume of space needed something with impact,” Edwards said.

They found it with the installation of custom-designed, tiered, color-changing LED fixtures that supplement the functional lighting.

“We thought the lighting could become a draw, that it needed to be dynamic, and that’s where the color changing came in. We wanted to make it more of an event than a lighting system. People could have a different experience each time visiting the mall because the lighting scheme can vary from day-to-day with the push of a button by the owner. This is especially exciting during holidays as the owner has even been able to choreograph the system to music,” Edwards said.

Accomplishing the look was a team effort.

“Working with a team is necessary for a system like this to be successful,” said Therese LaDouceur, principal lighting designer, Lighting Matters. “We worked with the owner, architect, with the EC and with a system integrator.”

Egan Cos. was part of the team that installed the tiered LED lights. The LED fixtures are mounted in clusters of three with each fixture at a different height, while the framework—mounted to the bottom of a beam—is all at the same level. The lighting fixtures were designed by Lighting Matters and manufactured by Lumetta Inc., Warwick, R.I. The rectangular housings were constructed from plasticized white fabric in two parts—an interior shade assembled from translucent panels and a nearly transparent exterior shade that partially covers the interior shade. Philips Color Kinetics iColor Cove MX Powercore LED fixtures are mounted within each housing.

“There were three different cluster combinations of the lights, and they were oriented differently within the space. That kept the manufacturing simpler since these were custom fixtures,” Edwards said. “By turning the clusters, you can get some variation; they look completely random, but there’s a pattern.”

After the fixtures were hung off armatures on existing structural steel, Egan Cos. wired the lights up through the upper level to a Color Kinetics iPlayer 3 controller.

“The management can preset programs of colors or themes,” Busch said. “The fixtures are translucent, and the LEDs change color with the program.”

After Egan Cos. completed the fixture and controller installation, Egan assisted in the training and instruction process of the mall personnel.

Linear LED fixtures were also used to backlight entry signs.

“For other fixtures within the mall that were changed out, we used energy-efficient ballasts, which help reduce the overall wattage consumed. In every case, we cut the mall’s power consumption by replacing existing fixtures with energy-efficient ones in all the common areas,” Busch said.

“Sustainability is very important to us, and we are utilizing such features as LED fixtures where we can on our renovations and redevelopments,” said Les Morris, director of public relations, Simon Property Group, owner of Maplewood Mall.

The lighting upgrade reduced the mall’s energy consumption by 1 gigawatt-hour annually, a $50,000 annual energy savings.

Gensler, Los Angeles

The new downtown Los Angeles office of Gensler, an architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, is housed in a unique space: a free-standing, three-story box-like building with floor-to-ceiling glass walls on all four sides with black granite walls forming its corners. It sits between two 52-story towers in downtown Los Angeles’ City National Plaza and was originally constructed for ARCO in 1972, then renovated for use by Gensler.

The electrical contractor on the innovative LEED Platinum project was O’Bryant Electric of Chatsworth, Calif. O’Bryant installed Lutron’s Quantum lighting control system. This system manages the electrical lighting through photocells, occupancy/vacancy sensors and switches with capabilities that include dimming of electric lighting throughout the building depending on available daylight, turning off luminaires in unoccupied areas, and operating automated motorized shades that block glare from the sun.

“That it was a glass building helped us decide it was the right space for us because it did allow a lot of daylighting,” said Valentin Lieu, senior associate, Commercial Office Buildings Practice Area, Gensler. “The first and second floors have full-height glass on all four sides of the building, which provide natural light. The third floor, which served as a storage space for the previous tenant, had no windows. In order to provide daylight and make the space usable as an office space, we cut a 30-by-60-foot opening in the roof for a new skylight and an opening in the third floor to create a centrally located atrium, which connects all floors.”

Once Gensler opened the roof so that light could stream in through the skylights, it created a new 12,000-square-foot second floor suspended from the existing floor above. The ceiling of the new floor in all the open office areas is an expanded metal-mesh grid system that exposes everything above it.

“You can see through the mesh into the ceiling plenums. We painted everything in the ceiling white, and, with light fixtures illuminating the plenum, we created an impression that the ceiling is a lot higher than it really is,” Lieu said.

That design presented a challenge for O’Bryant.

“There wasn’t any T-bar in the first-floor ceiling,” said Paul Maguire, O’Bryant Electric superintendent. “We ran conduit EMT and couldn’t use what we would typically use in a standard ceiling, which required more than the usual coordination with the other trades.”

“The electrical coordination for the skylight window was complicated because they are used as part of the smoke evacuation system,” Maguire said. “I’d never encountered a project where this was done before. In the event of a fire, the space is mechanically pressurized, and the smoke is pushed towards the skylight and through the windows. Another challenge was the limitation of space in the ceiling plenum. Close coordination with all trades early on was essential to work out routing problems. Our challenge was finding routes for our conduits around all of theirs. There wasn’t a lot of room.”

Lighting choices included mostly high-output T5 fluorescents and LEDs for a perforated-metal panel feature wall facing Figueroa Boulevard, one of downtown Los Angeles’ main streets; cove and undercabinet lighting; and the use of task lighting by Tambient. The task lights are mounted on work stations and outfitted with only one 39W, T5HO fluorescent lamp, providing downlight for the workspace and uplighting to add to the ambient light in the room. Sails above workstations also provide reflectors for the uplight.

What’s next in green lighting? Wait and see. Innovators, architects, lighting designers and project teams definitely have the green light to pursue interesting and energy-saving projects.

About The Author

CASEY, author of “Women Heroes of the American Revolution,” “Kids Inventing!” and “Women Invent!” can be reached at [email protected] and





featured Video


Why Vive Lighting Controls - The Benefits of Wireless

Vive by Lutron is a simple, scalable, wireless lighting control solution designed to meet today’s energy codes and budgets in both new and existing commercial buildings. Vive wireless systems install up to 70% faster than wired solutions, saving time, money, and labor costs.


Related Articles