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Facility Profile - November 2004

Light Control

Valley High School
West Des Moines, Iowa

By Carolyn Nordstrom


When neighbors of a new $8 million high school in West Des Moines, Iowa, challenged the school's architectural team to prove that nighttime lighting of the school's dual soccer/football field would not spill into the surrounding area, the designers and engineers had their work cut out for them. It would mean actually setting up lights after dark to test light distribution on the field and light cutoff in the neighborhood. If the test wasn't successful, Valley High School, one of the largest high schools in the state, wouldn't be able to play any night games.

"Valley Stadium is located in an affluent residential community," says architect David Ray, "and residents were asking for one foot candle of light at the property line, while the school was demanding 60 foot candles, maintained, for the best visibility on the field. The neighbors were very vocal about their demands and could have stopped the project."

Architects needed a lighting system that would provide maximum cutoff to satisfy the neighbors but also provide optimum field lighting to answer the needs of the coaches and players.

"It was the biggest challenge I've ever faced," says Joe Michmershuizen, a representative for Qualite Lighting, Inc. and project manager for Unlimited Lighting, Inc. "The only way we'd be able to prove the capability of the system before installation was to go through an elaborate test setup and performance evaluation. I remember the night we brought in the lights and hoisted them up on a lift. It was cold and snowing, but we knew it was the only way to positively prove we could control spill light and glare while maintaining good lighting on the playing field. Everyone was there. Officials from the city, county, school and neighborhood were all on the field checking light intensity and measuring light trespass in the surrounding area."

The test paid off. According to Ray, the neighbors were amazed at the spill control and dramatic reduction of up light, while the coaches were equally amazed at the bright, smooth lighting on the field.

"We selected the company's Gold Series for its impressive control and consistent field lighting," Ray says. "We also liked the idea that the system was factory-wired, pre-aimed and pre-assembled for easy installation. That meant our on-site setup costs were greatly reduced."

Ray was pleased with other aspects as well.

"We also liked the special maintenance features included, such as their patented diagnostics," he says. "Qualite's exclusive diagnostic system (MDS) allows the school's maintenance crew to make important electrical tests from the ground with the power safely turned off—that's another cost-saving feature. The remote ballast is also important. By placing the ballast at the bottom of the pole, weight at the top of the pole is greatly reduced."

To complete the task, a unique seven-pole design was used. Two 120-foot poles were set behind the grandstand, and five 95-foot poles were strategically placed around the field to provide the precise lighting needed to meet the specific requirements of both football and soccer.

"When we finished, we were extremely pleased that our on-field lighting exceeded expectations with 85 maintained foot-candles," says Rick Kohl, vice president of sales and marketing for Qualite. "Our engineered visor design delivers a bright, smooth light to the playing surface with maximum cutoff control. We've been told our light cutoff is far better than that found at many collegiate fields. Not only had we satisfied the players and coaches, we gave the neighbors exactly what they wanted."

For more information
Qualite Lighting, Inc.: 800-933-9741
or www.qualite.com

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