Fluorescent to LED Switch in Los Angeles Parking Garage Saves $167K Annually

Like many large cities, construction projects in downtown Los Angeles can take a while to go from planning to breaking ground. The development of one of the city’s largest parking structures to date was no exception. When the project at 7th and Alameda was originally planned, LED lighting was a bleeding-edge technology and, in the minds of some skeptics, still unproven. So, the project was originally specified with a fluorescent lighting solution. 

(Image: FSC Lighting) 

By the time the project was ready to break ground in 2016, things were very different. No one could doubt the efficiency, longevity and quality of solid state lighting. So, the project’s electrical contractor, Apollo Electric, and architect, Choate Parking Consultants, began looking for the right LED solution to replace their original fluorescent specification.

Because the project was taking place in an emerging neighborhood with security concerns, the developers were looking for a lighting solution that delivered bright, retail levels of illumination to make drivers feel secure when parking their vehicles.

After a comprehensive search, they settled on the L6000 series LED Radial Wrap from FSC Lighting. The original fluorescent fixtures specified for the project would have required 112 watts per fixture. The L6000 series fixtures were able to match that performance with just 54 watts per fixture, an energy saving of over 50% before considering the other advantages brought on by the switch to LED. Furthermore, the L6000 fixtures were fully Title-24-compliant, allowing the project to continue without additional delays.

The extended body of the fixtures enabled a dual lighting control strategy, implemented at an individual fixture level. First, each fixture was fitted with an occupancy sensor. When an area of the parking garage is empty, each fixture will dim to an energy-saving “low” mode that provides sufficient illumination for unoccupied areas. When a car or pedestrian enters an area, the fixture switches to a “high” mode, providing full illumination.

Second, fixtures around the parameter of the structure were fitted with daylight sensors. That way, when enough daylight enters an area to provide sufficient illumination, the parameter fixtures can fully turn off and automatically come back on again when daylight levels dim. 

LED light fixtures can deliver long, maintenance-free life spans, but in some cases, that life span can be severely shortened by hot operating environments. In a city where summertime highs regularly reach triple digits, this was definitely a concern for the 7th and Alameda project. The L6000 was able to meet this requirement with a long warranty that’s valid in operating conditions of up to 122°F (50°C). 

Local codes required that a 3” access hole be added to every individual fixture. Typically, this would have been done in the field by the contractor, requiring hundreds of hours of additional labor, and six figures in additional project costs. Instead, FSC Lighting was able to use its California manufacturing facility to quickly and efficiently make the necessary modifications in house before they were shipped to the construction site. 

As an added bonus, over half of the modification hours for the project were through FSC’s Made with Care program that provides valuable employment and experience to developmentally disabled adults. 

A final consideration for the project was the ability for future intelligent parking system integration. The parking garage was built with a parking-guidance system that counts and displays open parking spots per floor, and the operator wanted to make sure that the lighting system could integrate with a future upgrade to allow for the sale of pre-allocated parking spots. Because the project’s lighting is installed directly over the parking spots, and the L6000 series fixtures can easily accommodate easy intelligent lighting controls integration, upgrading the lighting system to integrate with a parking management system will be an easy, straightforward task.  

The structure was completed in 2016, and today the results are clear and by some measures, staggering. Every year, the system is saving more than 1.3 million kWh of electricity, resulting in annual cost savings of over $167,000.  

The pace of construction permitting in Los Angeles can be frustrating, but at least in this case, it allowed for the switch from fluorescent to LED lighting, and that switch has paid off in a big way. 

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