What's New in Parking Garage Lighting

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

Parking garages aren’t new. The first multi-story parking garage was built in Chicago in 1918. I’m guessing they’ve been poorly lit ever since…parking garages are routinely illuminated with glary fixtures using lamps that have rotten color rendering.

Parking garages aren’t new. The first multi-story parking garage was built in Chicago in 1918. I’m guessing they’ve been poorly lit ever since…parking garages are routinely illuminated with glary fixtures using lamps that have rotten color rendering.

In a way, it reminds me of the typical suburban house: Pull the car into the garage. Enter from the garage through the laundry room. Almost never use the front door even though that entrance is the celebratory and beautiful way to enter the home. It’s just backwards.

If the garage is the way most people enter your building, why not celebrate that entrance and give it some design attention?

Do visitors regularly use the garage?

Way finding is a key component of parking garage design. People will naturally migrate to the brightest spot. Consider wall washing the elevator core (light the walls instead of just the floor) to help pedestrians find their way through the garage. Color is another tool in the lighting designer’s toolbox. Different paint colors have long been used to identify different floors of a garage from each other. Now colored light can also be used to help differentiate one floor from another. Use colored LED marker lights to assist with way finding.

What about energy consumption?

Because studies have shown potential energy savings of 50 percent or more, California’s new Title 24 will require occupancy sensors in parking garages. The light levels must also have a step between 20% and 50% of full brightness. This is nearly impossible with HID technology because of lamp restrike times, and too much switching might shorten fluorescent lamp life, but with LED fixtures this is easily achievable.

What are some other considerations? Think about the people using the space. What is their viewing angle? Aim light away from traffic in one-way spaces. Cooper Lighting has a new directional, amiable LED parking garage light. With this replacement fixture, light can be adjusted to minimize glare for the viewer.

Cooper Lighting has a new directional, amiable LED parking garage light. With this replacement fixture, light can be adjusted to minimize glare for the viewer.

Acuity Brands Lighting and GE Lighting also offer LED options.

Acuity Brands Lithonia D-Series LED
GE Parking Garage Lighting

 

What’s new in parking garage lighting?

  • Colored lights for way finding.
  • White light LED fixtures with better color rendering.
  • Automatic controls for turning off lights when no one is there.

These are all good trends that can improve your building’s first impression and your bottom line.

 

Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting. Connect with Lisa J. Reed on Google+.

 

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