Lighting Retrofits Make the Upgrade

By Debbie McClung | Nov 15, 2004
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Advances in lighting technology have produced a variety of new retrofitting methods and components that are transforming existing high-volume facilities and transportation infrastructure.

By their very nature, retrofits are designed to enhance performance and provide significant energy savings. Yet some of the most beneficial features of today's lighting upgrades may lie in updated circuitry designed to meet modern power demands for illumination that provides safer, more secure environments for occupants.

Over the years, the combination of growing lighting consumption and aging structures has allowed retrofitting to become the driving force behind utility efficiency efforts, with the emphasis on commercial facilities.

Offices, retail and warehouses are the largest consumers of energy in the United States, and lighting accounts for more than 40 percent of the commercial sector's overall electricity consumption according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy in Washington, D.C.

Adding greater incentive, utilities developed rebate programs to complement retrofit efforts. These energy-saving rebates continue to be the mainstay of demand-side management initiatives aimed at reducing consumption and recycling materials. Although utility-rebate programs peaked in the early 1990s, it is estimated that around 40 utility-sponsored rebate programs in 20 different states are still helping customers accomplish their retrofit missions.

Innovation Paybacks

With increased electricity costs and the growing interest in energy conservation, facility managers have turned to new lighting technologies to provide high-quality, energy-efficient lighting options for multiple applications. These products include occupancy sensors, dimmers with automatic shutoff controls, ceramic metal halides, inductive lamp systems, one-lamp linear fluorescent fixtures, high-intensity T5HO fluorescents and super T8 lamp systems.

For instance, lighting manufacturers estimate a new electronic T8 lamp and ballast system burns approximately 30 to 50 percent less energy, operates cooler and reduces maintenance costs. In addition, it can generate up to 20 percent more light with improved color rendering. A typical payback on the newer technology is one to three years based on annual operating hours and kilowatt-per-hour cost.

Over time, these cutting-edge technologies and new regulatory policies are expected to set the pace for all future retrofits and new construction. Statistics show fluorescent lamps and electronic ballast combinations haven't taken the spotlight as the new standard in lighting systems. According to the Lighting Controls Association, trend-setting designs that are smaller, smarter and more flexible have allowed electronic ballasts to eclipse magnetic ballasts in both dollar volume sales in 1995 and total unit sales volume in 2001.

In addition to market demand, two new regulatory developments are expected to reshape the industry:

The Department of Energy (DOE) has adopted new ballast efficacy standards for F40T12 and F96T12 lamps to be phased in beginning in 2005.

A provision of the DOE's Energy Policy Act of 1992 will require all states to adopt energy codes as stringent as ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-1999 or justify their noncompliance.

Transportation Sees the Light

Retrofitting lamps and fixtures is a routine consideration in facility plans from energy-intensive hospitals and hotels to seaports, professional ballparks and roadways. Retrofits do more than just decrease energy use. Projects also enhance the visual quality and appearance of high-traffic facilities and infrastructures, while increasing productivity and safety.

Security and job site safety at the sixth-largest seaport in the world recently prompted a major petroleum storage facility to upgrade lighting for its Houston ship channel terminal. Surveys of the Magellan Midstream Partners L.P. facility, which holds approximately 8.8 million barrels of oil and services up to 12 ships and 200 barges a month, confirmed that it had less than one foot-candle of light in many critical operating areas.

A high-mast system manufactured by General Electric replaced scattered floodlights with 1,000W high-pressure sodium lamps to eliminate dangerous glare and shadowy conditions for employees, security cameras, ship pilots and the U.S. Coast Guard. The project also helped the terminal secure major grants for additional lighting from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security.

A relatively new inductive highway sign lighting method is providing brighter, more uniform light for millions of motorists on high-volume roadways. A partnership between San Diego-based Allied Lighting Systems and Philips Lighting's QL induction lamps has produced a retrofit kit consisting of long-life, 85W inductive lamps and a reflector system that is adaptable to existing 175W mercury vapor fixtures.

The California Department of Transportation is reportedly saving approximately $260,000 annually, or 60 percent in energy costs, on more than 3,000 sign lights and retrofit kits using the system in San Diego County alone, according to Allied Lighting.

Transportation officials in Arizona, California, Nevada, New York and Washington have approved the Media Star technology to meet their photometric requirements, and several are beginning to contract the installation to local electrical firms.

Officials say the technology provides a safer, more efficient alternative over changing fixtures frequently in dangerous, hard-to-reach locations.

Take Me out of the Ballgame

In recent years, NECA member E-J Electric Installation Co., a full-service electrical company established in 1899 whose headquarters are in Long Island City, N.Y., has performed a series of large exterior and interior retrofits at Shea Stadium that is designed to help light a path to the new millennium. Home of the New York Mets and host to historic events such as a Beatles' concert and an appearance by Pope John Paul II, Shea Stadium opened its doors in 1964.

“There's no other option but to retrofit them to meet modern facility lighting standards. That's not just fixtures, but also power distribution,” said Angelo Economou, E-J Electric project manager. “With new fixtures, there's the benefit of more efficient lighting and higher-level light output, so you also need to look at increasing the lighting circuitry.”

A major three-phase retrofit allowed the 57,405-seat facility to become a more modern entertainment mecca with brighter lights and better power distribution for players and fans.

In the early 1980s, the facility underwent a lighting retrofit for the field, the exterior infrastructure and the interior four-level concourse systems. The Flushing Meadows, N.Y., facility received a significant upgrade again starting in 2000-2001 with the roof-mounted field lighting system.

Players, especially outfielders, discontented with low light were introduced to a retrofit solution that significantly increased lumen levels despite approximately 50 fewer fixtures. Deep in the winter, an E-J Electric crew of 12 electricians accessed the roof's catwalks to remove old fixtures and lamps and install a high-wattage system. Manufactured by Iowa-based Musco Lighting, the SportsCluster2 system added custom-built brackets to hold 25 clusters of eight 2,000W lamps.

To correct light levels below typical stadium standards, a crew of 80 E-J Electric electricians equipped with 20 scissor lifts simultaneously retrofitted Shea's concourse and emergency backup (egress) lighting systems during the winter of 2002-2003.

According to Economou, Shea Stadium's interior lighting was originally outfitted with incandescents but was retrofitted 20 years ago with metal halide technology. The current two-part project called for the installation of fluorescent lamps in fixtures similar to high-bay metal halide sports fixtures.

The Mets lease Shea Stadium from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Said Economou: “The reason the city's architectural and electrical engineering firm, STV Inc., selected fluorescent over metal halide was not only for energy efficiency, but for faster response for the egress system. There would've been a short downtime between the generator starting and the lights starting. With fluorescents, it's instant.”

He noted that the four-level concourse received 127 new Sportlite fixtures fitted with four 26W lamps, 206 fixtures containing six 42W lamps and a total of 49 fixtures containing four 42W lamps.

In the event of a power failure, the original egress design did not provide sufficient light for emergency evacuations. The new egress system offers 75 fixtures containing four 42W lamps for the ramps, while the concourse gained 106 fixtures with four 26W lamps each.

With the upgraded egress system in place, the stadium was equipped to handle emergency lighting had the Aug. 14, 2003, blackout occurred after dark during the scheduled game between the Mets and the San Francisco Giants. The game was cancelled that afternoon.

Increased capacity to meet life safety needs amounted to more than new fixtures and a 500kW generator. “It was not only a retrofit, but also additional power. We added branch circuiting and a total of 16 new panels on eight risers throughout the stadium to redistribute the power and increase the load of the egress lighting and normal concourse lighting. It's a lot safer now,” said Economou.

The most recent retrofit phase involved brighter bullpens and improved security lighting for the stadium's gates with newer “necklace lighting” that was completed before the 2004 season's first pitch. The bullpens received six 1,000W fixtures on each to replace the previous 750W lamps, while the wall-mounted necklace lighting was upgraded again with Musco's 1,000W lamps in clusters of two lamps for each of the 22 fixtures.

“We estimated that levels for the security lighting were raised 30 to 35 percent using the same circuitry and same wattage because of Musco's system,” added Economou. EC

MCCLUNG, owner of Woodland Communications, is a construction writer from Iowa. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].


About The Author

Debbie McClung, owner of Woodland Communications, is a construction writer from Iowa.





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