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Supercharge your outdoor lighting: overhaul your exterior fixtures with LEDs to slash energy and maximize illumination.

When was the last time you paid attention to your exterior lighting? If it's been a number of years since the last upgrade, your fixtures might be devouring energy while failing to deliver on aesthetics and safety. With energy demands that run from dusk to dawn, ditching high-pressure sodium or metal halide luminaires for LEDs will significantly reduce operational costs and improve the exterior appearance of your property.

Seeing is Believing

It doesn't take much to spot bad exterior lighting, with its sickly amber color, unnerving shadows or eye-squinting glare. It makes people scurry through an area while glancing over their shoulder or searching the ground for tripping hazards.

Outdoor lighting has to fulfill more checkboxes than its cousins inside a facility. Good exterior illumination should:

* Minimize glare and shadows to create a safe environment

* Improve navigation and situational awareness

* Enable facial recognition, signage readability and color rendering

* Create nighttime visibility for marketing purposes

* Illuminate areas to improve surveillance footage

* Avoid light trespass and pollution

* Preserve circadian rhythms for animals or nearby residential communities.

Now add energy efficiency, low maintenance costs and sustainability and you can see that balancing these objectives can be tricky.


Luckily, it's easy to see with your own eye if exterior lighting isn't meeting the mark. Test how easy it is to recognize a face at a distance, recommends Wendy Norman, National Account Sales for Eaton. Drop your keys and see if you can find them or try to read information in your hand; any difficulty is a sign that your lighting needs improvement. To verify perceived shortcomings, use a light level meter to measure footcandle levels.

Proper lighting, however, can go beyond numbers. "Outdoor illumination is insufficient if it's falling short of the intended function. Maybe customers don't feel safe or the architectural design is being overlooked," explains Jeff McClow, Area and Site Product Manager for Hubbell Lighting. "Conduct a lighting audit to ensure light levels are based off on IES recommendations for illuminance values."

Extend Savings with Controls

As you upgrade your fixtures, take a hard look at your control options. With the right capabilities, you can attain step dimming, tunable color temperature, reporting capabilities, maintenance alerts and outage notifications. Unlike incumbent technologies, which don't react well to fluctuations in voltage, controls won't decrease the lifespan of LEDs, says John Casadonte, Vertical Marketing Manager for Cree.

"LED fixtures are also easily controlled with wireless technology, which eliminates the need to run any additional wiring when changing out fixtures," Norman states.

We've gathered four projects that switched to LEDs to satisfy energy, aesthetics and safety goals. See the difference for yourself.

Retail Plaza Shines Bright With LEDs




Create a warm impression, reduce electrical loads and use standardized lighting.


New pole and canopy LEDs slash energy by 48%.

Melrose Village Plaza is a retail neighborhood with the grocery store Albertsons, CVS Pharmacy and Kimco Realty's regional office as anchor tenants. Built in 1990, the parking lot was originally equipped with over 80 215W low pressure sodium fixtures. There were also 138 miscellaneous high pressure sodium and halogen luminaires for exterior lighting. Through its Illumi-Nation program, Kimco is upgrading all of its properties to LED lighting.

"Particularly in retail but for all sectors, exterior lighting should create a pleasant first impression. People driving by should have an overall sense of invitation, visual appeal and security," says Nate Mitten, Senior Manager of Property Standards and Improvements for Kimco Realty. "The improved light distribution of LEDs, higher lumens per watt and lower maintenance costs can provide a strong business case for an upgrade project."




The switch to LEDs at the Melrose property dropped the watts per ballast from 215W to 139W, a 35% reduction in electrical demand. One-to-one replacements were used for all canopy fixtures to yield 67% energy savings. The formerly washed-out parking area is now cheerfully lit, with an average light level of 3.1 footcandles (a 109% increase) and uniformity at an average/minimum ratio of 4.4:1. Completed in August 2015, the upgrade has lowered energy use by 48% and is projected to save approximately 70,000 kWh annually.

"Our Illumi-Nation program is the first time we've taken a standardized approach to lighting upgrades across the portfolio. We completed over 100 LED upgrades in 2015 and have 60 more targeted for 2016. Our strategy is to source fixtures with 10-year warranties through a single national distributor. We then hire regional contractors for installation," Mitten explains. "Our local property managers serve as the quarterbacks for our projects; their input, coordination and oversight is critical to a successful rollout."

Low-Maintenance Fixtures Deliver 53% Savings for Historic School



Eliminate high pressure sodium lighting, create more perceived light output and lower energy demands.


LEDs deliver better uniformity with 53% savings.

The Prairie School in Racine, Wl is a 1965 Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired K-12 facility located in a wooded, rural setting. The old sodium lighting for the parking lots had a yellow cast that impaired color rendering and caused patchy illumination. At 250W, they consumed 300 system watts per fixture. In addition to saving energy and improving light quality, new luminaires would need to complement the site's historic design.

Using the existing poles, area fixtures were upgraded to LED light bars that deliver 8,040 average lumens yet consume only 141 system watts each. This provides a savings of 53% or 159 system watts over the original installation. Taking into account the 50,000-plus hours of fixture life, the facility team can look forward to over 16 years of maintenance-free operation.


A 1.01 average mean footcandle level was achieved with an improved maximum/minimum ratio of 8:1. Even though footcandle levels are reduced from the high pressure sodium installation, the new LED system provides a dramatic increase in perceived light levels and safety for pedestrian and vehicular traffic.



"This project is from 2008 and at the time, we really had to provide energy and maintenance projections to prove that LEDs were the right solution. The contrast between the sodium and LED lights is striking," says John Casadonte, Vertical Marketing Manager for Cree. "Because LED efficiency continues to advance, if we did this project again with the latest fixtures, we could deliver an additional 50% energy savings."

Parking Garage Secures $116,000 Annual Savings with LEDs



Find a metal halide replacement that reduces energy, lowers maintenance costs and improves light levels.


Lowered yearly energy consumption by over 1,230,000 kWh and achieved a 3.5-year payback.

Parking garages can be notorious for poor lighting. The wrong fixture or illumination level can create a dingy appearance and deep shadows that make users feel uneasy. An Atlanta media company wanted its secured parking garage to have uniform lighting, which the existing metal halides were unable to deliver. Switching to LED fixtures not only achieved significant energy savings and reduced maintenance costs, but the garage's appearance was considerably brightened.

The property team chose to replace its 845 existing 175W metal halide fixtures with LED luminaires. The retrofit reduced the electrical load by 75%. from approximately 220W per fixture to 54W. This resulted in a total load reduction of 140 kW or 1,230,000 kWh annually, realizing a $116,000 operational savings with a 3.5 year payback.

"Parking lighting is typically on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. LED parking garage fixtures are getting closer to the cost of HID fixtures, with the difference in upfront costs easily recovered through reduced maintenance requirements," explains Wendy Norman, National Account Sales for Eaton. "Metal halide 175W parking garage fixtures can often be replaced with LED fixtures at 50W or less while still meeting IES requirements. With an average rate of 10 cents per kWh rates, that's nearly $120 per fixture in annual energy savings. A facility with 85 to 90 fixtures would realize over $10,000 each year in addition to reduced maintenance expenses."



LED Lighting Satisfies Hotel Guest Experience



Replace outdated fixtures to improve the guest experience and lower operating costs.


Uniform lighting creates an inviting atmosphere with portfolio savings projected at $1,750,000 per year.

When your main clientele uses your facility primarily at night, outdoor illumination can make or break a hotel guest's experience. Hospitality lighting has a tall order to fulfill: attract visitors, reinforce branding, ensure safety and conserve energy.

Extended Stay America recently refreshed its portfolio of 629 properties, the majority of which are 20 years or older. Anecdotal research indicated outdoor lighting was insufficient, a combined shortcoming of outdated fixtures, unachievable light levels and mounting maintenance costs.

To remedy these concerns, the hotel chain upgraded 6,745 area poles and over 3,300 wall packs to LEDs. The new luminaires deliver consistent illumination and effective color rendering across the property that is inviting and secure for visitors.

Once all 629 hotels are completed, the projected energy savings are 18.5 million kWh per year, translating to a savings of $1,750,000 per year. There has already been a substantial impact on short-term maintenance costs, and Extended Stay anticipates upkeep expenses to decrease by $1.2 million per year. With a $1 billion upfront investment, the hospitality chain will see a quick return on its utility bills.


"The greatest challenge was convincing upper management to invest the monetary resources to upgrade over 600 hotels," says David Crider, Director of Energy and Sustainability, Extended Stay America. "When this project began over three years ago, the return on investment was not certain. A significant amount of time and money was spent gathering information on fixture counts, current and desired light levels, researching technology and testing products. In the end, LEDs were the right solution to reduce lifetime costs while meeting aesthetic goals."



Jennie Morton is Senior Editor of BUILDINGS.
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Comment:Supercharge your outdoor lighting: overhaul your exterior fixtures with LEDs to slash energy and maximize illumination.
Author:Morton, Jennie
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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