Smart LED Lighting Makes Parking Garages Greener, Safer

DAVIS, California, January 13, 2009 (ENS) – When classes at the University of California, Davis are done for the day and students and teachers drive away from the campus, the lights stay on in the parking garages and parking lots for safety reasons.

But Michael Siminovitch can’t stand seeing all that energy going to waste.

As director of University of California, Davis’ California Lighting Technology Center and a professor in the Design Program, Siminovitch put together a team to create a more efficient system.

On Monday, after two years of development and field testing, Siminovitch unveiled his innovative package of technologies in a UC Davis parking garage.

The system uses about 20 percent of the energy of conventional parking lighting systems, yet provides better safety, reduces light pollution and makes less toxic waste.

In collaboration with UC Davis facility managers, California energy regulators and providers, and a handful of key firms in the lighting industry, Siminovitch chose light emitting diode, LED, lights.

LEDs give off bright white light but use little electricity. Each lighting fixture has three light bars containing 60 LEDs. Compared to conventional metal-halide lights that each draw 175 watts, LED lights take only 85 watts. They last longer and contain no mercury.

Bi-level LED lighting (Photo courtesy California Lighting Technology Center)

Siminovitch paired the LED lighting with motion sensors for even greater efficiency.

The sensors detect the motion of a person or vehicle within 35 feet. When no motion is detected for a designated period of time – from 30 seconds to 30 minutes – the sensor switches the LED light from its high level to a low level that uses half the energy.

Even low level is bright enough to provide plenty of light for people entering the garage.

And the switch from low to high brightness signals to people using the garage and security personnel that there is another car or person moving nearby.

“Switching to LED lights and adding bi-level activity-sensing technology yields energy savings for the project of 50 percent when the lights are at full power and 80 percent when they are in low mode,” Siminovitch said.

“As for maintenance savings, we project they will be 42 percent of what we spent on the fixtures that were replaced,” he said.

“Even at half power, the LED fixtures are delivering plenty of light to the space. We may be able to cut levels further, saving even more electricity and lengthening fixture lifetimes, Siminovitch said.

This bi-level lighting, part of UC Davis’ Smart Lighting Initiative, is already serving six UC Davis sites – three parking areas, one pathway network and two building exteriors – as well as Sacramento State University and Arcade Creek Park in Sacramento.

It is also being exported to other users through a new effort called LED University. Early adopters include – UC Santa Barbara; Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Tianjin Polytechnic University in China; University of Notre Dame; North Carolina State University; and University of Arkansas.

UC Davis’ external partners in the Smart Lighting Initiative include PG&E, which offered incentives as part of a University of California systemwide energy initiative and supplied partial funding based on demonstrated energy savings.

Ruud Lighting/BetaLED of Sturtevant, Wisconsin supplied the LED light fixtures, and Watt Stopper/Legrand of Santa Clara, California supplied the occupancy sensors.

The Bi-level Smart LED Parking Garage Fixture is currently available from Beta LED and can be ordered in a variety of configurations, light outputs, and mounting types.

Part of the Design Program at UC Davis, the California Lighting Technology Center is a research and education facility that focuses on the application of energy-efficient lighting and daylighting technologies.

The center was established through a collaborative effort of the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research Program and UC Davis, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

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