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At South Run RECenter in Springfield, Va., underwater bulbs in the pool were replaced with brighter, more-efficient LED lights. Manager Laura Marquardt says, “From a management standpoint, I would definitely say that the underwater lights in the pool have made the pool look more clear, clean and bright. And in the racquetball court the lights have made the room brighter, and the controls have significantly reduced the time the lights are on.”

The site’s indoor field house and pool are on the list to be retrofitted with new lights and controls.

Customers at Mount Vernon RECenter in Alexandria, Va., have noticed the difference that the new lights have made. Manager Trina Taylor says, “ When customers who were used to the old look of the area first saw the new lighting, the most typical remark was, ‘It looks like a brand new pool.’ Given that it’s still the same 29-year-old pool, it was the best compliment that could be given. The area has gone from a dungeon-like atmosphere to a bright, dynamic environment.”

Planning is underway to retrofit the indoor ice rink with a new lighting and control system as well.

The lighting projects are not limited to only the rec centers, however. A new daylight-harvesting control system installed at Herndon’s Frying Pan Farm Park’s Activity Center regulates the amount of artificial lighting based on the level of available natural light streaming in from windows and skylights. On sunny days, the activity center reduces energy consumption from excessive lighting by 80 percent. Parking-lot and exterior lights at the farm’s visitor center were also upgraded.

“Lighting contributes to the ambience of a location or facility. The new lights not only save us money and greatly improve security by eliminating dark areas, but they also make the parking lots around the facilities warm and inviting,” says Tawny Hammond, manager of the preserved 1930s farm.

Dimming More Lights

The Park Authority has several more projects on the horizon and has secured more than $500,000 in funding from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), a federal grant program included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Funding will support outdoor lighting and control projects on parking lots, trails, tennis courts and building exterior lights. The Authority will also allocate EECBG funds for Web-based lighting controls on more than 20 athletic fields at nine parks.

While lighting and control systems are a large part of the current plan, the agency is also considering automated energy management for mechanical systems and evaluating solar-thermal and geothermal systems for use in renewable-energy solutions. Moving forward, the Park Authority’s plan will continue to rely on a high level of cooperation among its divisions. If the past few years are any indication, Authority facilities will continue to reduce carbon emissions and see dramatic decreases in energy usage and utility costs.

Matthew Kaiser is the Deputy Public Information Officer for the Fairfax County Park Authority. He can be reached via e-mail at

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