A Moment Of Clarity

Specularity is a material’s ability to direct light exactly where the lighting designer points it. Older reflectors defuse light, thereby wasting it on the walls and ceiling where it’s not needed. Especially for sports facilities with high ceiling heights, lighting designers now look for materials that are nearly 100-percent reflective and highly specular to bounce light in the most-efficient way possible.

The fixtures are not only green because of reduced energy, but the fluorescent lamps are compliant with Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) requirements, meeting the classification of “low mercury.” TCLP is an Environmental Protection Agency test to determine whether a solid waste substance is hazardous for the purposes of disposal. If the concentration of the toxic chemicals does not exceed maximum regulatory levels, the waste product is classified as “TCLP-compliant.” The cost of hazardous disposal can be very expensive.

Money In The Bank

Selling a new lighting system to a CFO should be like selling an investment, rather than a capital expense. Once the initial investment of the light fixtures is paid for, a new lighting system is money in the bank. According to the Eneref Group, using the right combination of lamp, reflector, optics and ballast can achieve 75-percent energy savings over older T12 or metal-halide systems.

And the results for the university proved to be impressive. Even as light levels increased by 40 percent, the new system needs 50-percent less energy. That makes sense when you consider that the 465-watt, metal-halide fixtures were replaced with 234-watt, Westinghouse T5HO fixtures. The rapid-start ballast alone saved the university $500 a year because the lights are now turned off when the gymnasium is unoccupied.

Poandl says that the original specification only called for “as much light as we had before,” so he is delighted by the light increase. But the actual light color also improved, helping one’s ability to see. “It’s a much better color rendition, so things look better,” says Poandl.

The university’s Assistant Basketball Coach, Brian Chapman, who makes a living winning basketball games, is just as competitive discussing the school’s new lighting system as he is on the court. “Even though we have an older facility in comparison to others in our conference, our light is actually better. Going to other gyms, with new facilities, the lighting isn’t as good.”

William Paterson University has embraced the “American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment” (ACUPCC), which promises that its institution’s short-, medium-, and long-term efforts will reduce greenhouse gases emitted in energy generation and use, with the ultimate goal to make the campus “carbon neutral.” For example, the university has just completed the bidding process for a large photovoltaic project.

Still, the new lighting did come with one downside, says Poandl. “Now we are seeing some of the imperfections on the floor that we weren’t able to see before.”

Seth Rose is the Managing Director of The Eneref Group (www.eneref.org), a business consortium whose mission is to report on ecologically sensible ideas for commercial buildings.

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