02/14/12

Alliance Office Saves Even More Energy with Super-Efficient Lighting Upgrade

The Alliance’s Washington, D.C., LEED-CI Silver headquarters already is energy-efficient – but it recently became even more so with a new lighting upgrade! The first phase of this lighting project is complete, and you can see the spectacularly beautiful results in the pictures accompanying this article.  With new lighting, one of the main gathering spots at the Alliance is now twice as bright while only using half as much energy.

Lighting Up the Alliance – One Room at a Time

Thanks to the American Lighting Association (ALA) and an offer by its President Dick Upton to organize lighting product donations from among its members, the Alliance embarked on an upgrade to the lighting in its four main meeting rooms and reception area last year.  We started the project with our medium-sized conference room, which is known as the “Map Room” for its large map on one wall.

The Map Room was the least-liked, and therefore least-used, meeting space in our office suite because it has no windows or natural light, and the old lighting system created a “cave-like” effect. This effect was caused by lights that hung straight down, making bright spots while leaving other areas in the dark.  The room’s old fixtures added to the cave effect, as it was lit with a combination of four 2200-lumen/40-watt fluorescent T12 lights, and 12 3800-lumen/32-watt, straight-tube, CFL recessed lights. Although energy-efficient, the decade-old ballasts cut the bulbs’ brightness by 50%, so they were using just as many watts to give off half as much light.

David Ghatan, senior associate at architectural lighting design firm C.M. Kling & Associates, readily accepted the Alliance’s challenge for greater energy efficiency and improved meeting space by putting forth a solution that not only lowered energy use but also increased brightness. The firm’s plan also added warmth by lowering the color temperature of the lights. How did they do it?  By switching from CFLs to LEDs and upgrading from T12s to T5s.

With guidance from C.M. Kling & Associates, Mona Electric installed the lighting and wiring while V.R. Construction handled the drywalling. The  team replaced the four long T12 tubes with a pendant that holds four more efficient T5 tubes in a square above the table as the room’s main light source. The team also decreased the number of recessed lights by four, and switched the remaining eight from CFLs to LEDs. To diffuse light throughout the room, the team added wall washers around the recessed lights to reflect light and give the illusion of a larger room.

More Light, Less Electricity

With more efficient lighting, the team decreased the overall energy use by an estimated 40%, all while brightening the meeting room by at least 100%. The new T5 bulbs use 28 watts to brighten the room by 2900 lumens, and the LEDs use only 27 watts to give off 1500 lumens. Meanwhile, the lighting temperature warmed from the original 3500K-5000K range to a consistent 3000K throughout the room. 

“Alliance staff love the change,” said IT Director Abir Trivedi who oversaw the lighting makeover, adding “in fact, the upgraded room is now requested more frequently."

Donations & Design

In addition to the generosity of the ALA and C.M. Kling & Assocociates, the Alliance’s makeover is being made possible by the donation of a wide array of cutting-edge lighting products:

Lighting the Future

When the full project is complete, the new lighting system in the Alliance’s main meeting rooms and lobby will save about 500 watts in total power used.

To reach this energy-saving goal, the new lighting system’s vacancy sensors will be even better equipped to turn lights off when not in use and will feature “daylight harvesting” to dim lights in spaces that are already bright from daylight. The next phase of the project also will replace the existing florescent lights in the Alliance’s largest conference room with a cold cathode cove.

Relighting Your Office

Did you know that LED lights are a viable option for offices? Commercial, ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use at least 75% less energy and last 35 times longer than incandescent lighting.

If you’re thinking of relighting your office space to save money, use less energy and increase employee productivity, check out: