LED Lighting Reaps Rewards

Exterior lighting at San Diego Community College was refreshed and secured with the installation of Cree Edge area, security, and high-output floodlights. Exterior lighting at San Diego Community College was refreshed and secured with the installation of Cree Edge area, security, and high-output floodlights.

With the passing of California’s Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39), Chris Manis, vice chancellor of facilities management for the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), saw a golden opportunity to finance facility upgrades across the campus system. A state program providing funding for improving energy efficiency, Prop 39 makes available as much as $550 million annually to eligible educational agencies to pay for energy projects with a strong return on investment. As the second largest community college district in the state, SDCCD continues to grow rapidly, tripling their footprint in less than 10 years while at the same time maintaining their commitment to sustainability. Manis had an extensive wish list of energy-saving projects, so he and his team set to work submitting their energy-expenditure plan applications.

It quickly became apparent that lighting projects were the preferred funding recipients. As Manis explained, “If I save 20% on my electric bill, then those dollars became available for other projects. We call lighting the low-hanging fruit because it has one of the largest savings potentials, especially when upgrading older facilities that still have incandescent or older fluorescent fixtures.” Once funding was secured, SDCCD worked with several partners to find a lighting solution that would have the largest ROI while meeting socially responsible investment goals.

According to Mark Doubleday, senior planner, energy systems and facilities maintenance for SDCCD, “Inefficient lighting uses a lot of money per month on kWh and manpower. While we’ve tripled our footprint, we haven’t tripled our manpower, so we have to be smarter. With a maintenance backlog that’s 50% to 70% lighting replacements, seven campuses spread out over 35 miles and only four electricians, that’s a challenge. We’re going after as much difficult lighting as we can to realize savings.”

Doubleday continued, “That’s how I ended up looking at Cree Inc., Durham, NC, as one of the better solutions long term.”

CR series LED troffers provide lighting efficiency. CR series LED troffers provide lighting efficiency.

As part of the upgrade to the administrative offices, SDCCD installed Cree CR series troffers with SmartCast technology, delivering performance and essential lighting control without the complex design, installation, and set-up of traditional lighting-control systems. Exterior lighting also received a refresh with the installation of Cree Edge area, security, and high-output floodlights, creating well-lit spaces that enhance safety and security.

As Andrew Hoerner, West coast energy-solution sales manager for Rexel Energy Solutions, Taunton, MA, explained, “With the CR series troffers, these high-efficiency fixtures were a great way to demonstrate the benefits of LED not only with energy savings, but we had the added benefits and attributes of controls tied into Title 24.” Hoerner continued, “Rexel’s Energy Service team identified Cree’s SmartCast technology as the best fit for energy savings, ease of installation, Title 24 compliance, rebate eligibility, and end-user comfort. We were able to come up with the ultimate solution that the campus folks are very happy about.”

Previously SDCCD used on-bill financing with San Diego Gas & Electric, paying for projects through energy savings. Now, SDCCD could fund the project completely through Prop 39, and as an added bonus, the LED lighting solution also qualified for incentives from San Diego Gas & Electric.

Cree SmartCast controls solution allows grouping of office fixtures and occupancy sensors to accommodate those who work after normal hours or prefer different lighting intensity. Cree SmartCast controls solution allows grouping of office fixtures and occupancy sensors to accommodate those who work after normal hours or prefer different lighting intensity.

Another key benefit of the lighting solution was the 75,000 to 100,000 hr. life expectancy, offering huge maintenance savings. As Manis explained, “One of our main weighted categories was life of product. Now I don’t have to send an electrician out but once every 10 years,” allowing the facilities staff to divert the resources to other areas.

In terms of safety and security, the SmartCast controls solution has been a boon. Manis said, “In large offices, we’ve grouped the fixtures and occupancy sensors to accommodate people who work after hours. If they’re working late in a remote corner, I grouped that office with the main office so those main office lights stay on.” He continued, “One of the qualities we like is the ability to make adjustments. I like my lights on full blast. Next door, they want 80%. I’m still saving 20% on my energy use while the person next door is saving even more and they’re happy with their amount of light. The ability to have a hand-held programmer controller allowed us to make adjustments quickly and easily.”

As far as light quality, Doubleday stated, “With fluorescent, you are constantly getting pounded with flicker. Because the Cree lights are so much more consistent and there’s no flicker, the lights look brighter, so we’ve had to make adjustments. We’re using daylight sensing and we’re dimmed below factory measurements, so we’re getting additional estimated 25% to 30% savings at minimum as well as extending fixture life.”

Hoerner summed it up, “Cree does a great job of making it simple. You have the right solutions that hit the mark for energy efficiency–from exterior to interior. With controls, the company really hits the mark on all points–lumens per watt, years in business, warranty, rebate eligibility, applications, and price. And they have some great people on their staff. That’s why I like to lead with Cree 99% of the time.”

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