Feature Article - March 2009
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Save Some Green

Smart Cost-Cutting Strategies

By Dawn Klingensmith


Lighten Up

The EPA's Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual, available online at www.energystar.gov, contains lighting recommendations for several specific types of structures, and while recreation centers are not among them, some of the information still applies. High-intensity fluorescent lamps are a good alternative for gymnasiums, where high-intensity discharge lamps, such as metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps, are often used. High-intensity fluorescents may also perform well in auditorium-type spaces where the ceilings are higher than 15 feet.

The EPA also recommends that facilities use Energy Star-rated light-emitting diode (LED) exit signs, which can function a full 25 years without lamp replacement, compared with less than one year for an incandescent sign.

Likewise, LED scoreboards are preferable to their incandescent counterparts not just in terms of energy savings and maintenance requirements, but also because they withstand impacts better and can be seen from a wider range of vantage points because of their brightness and clarity. LED scoreboards cost more up front, but the operational savings can be substantial.

Athletic fields historically have been illuminated by incandescent and quartz lighting systems, but they are losing favor to metal halide lights that use less energy, last three times longer and reduce glare. Hillsborough County in Florida upgraded to metal halide lamps at 130 outdoor fields and courts in 2003 and in the first year alone saved $7.7 million in energy costs, plus maintenance savings, according to the EPA.