Department of Energy (DOE) Studies Guinea Pig Parking Garage

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

In a recent post, What's New in Parking Garage Lighting?, I recommended three things.

  1. Use colored light to assist with way finding.
  2. Use LEDs for general lighting.
  3. Use occupancy sensors on those LEDs to save even more energy.

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

I know what you’re thinking. "Those are great ideas, but I'll let someone else try them first." Great news! The DOE has talked the Department of Labor into trying it out for you!

In 2010, the Department of Labor replaced 19 of the High Pressure Sodium lights in their parking garage with LED parking garage fixtures. This spring, the DOE released a report about that project. Read the entire report, or just the brief.

The input wattage for the HPS lights was 130 watts, while the LEDs consume about 62 watts each. Additionally, the LED lights could be controlled with occupancy sensors to dim them to 10% (for security purposes, the lights were never turned completely off.)

The numbers show a 52% savings from the installation of the fixtures, increased by the use of occupancy sensors, and increased even more by adjusting the "time delay" feature of the occupancy sensors to a shorter "no motion detected" time before adjusting lights down to the minimum level.

DOE Studies Guinea Pig Parking Garage

However, the intangibles may be the more important piece of this puzzle. We all know the numbers will show savings. But what will the people think of the new system? According to the DOE report, "Staff at DOL Headquarters reported high satisfaction with the operation of the LED product." The brief also noted that there were no complaints when the time delay was changed from 10 minutes to 2.5 minutes, "possibly because few have even noticed the change."

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to replace those old parking garage fixtures and start saving money!


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.


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