Feature Article - October 2014
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Lighten Up

Ball Fields, Pools Get a Boost With LEDs

By Deborah L. Vence

Lighting Placement

Another way to conserve energy and better manage your lighting system is simply by changing the location of your lights.

For example, renovations of the 50-meter indoor pool at Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, Ore., involve new, higher efficiency T5 incandescent lights, but not LED lights. Rather, the placement of the lights will be changed.

"[We're] having the lights redesigned over the perimeter of the pool, within a foot of the pool deck. When we have to fix them [we want to do it] without having to actually drain it," said Elsa Lemoine, facilities director at the club, a private athletic and social facility that offers a variety of activities to its 21,000 members (including children). Membership in the club is an exclusive, invitation-only process.

"What you do is try to align the replacement [of the lights] with annual pool maintenance. And, now you can just replace them as you need them. You are getting the full life of the lights," she explained. "You don't have to drain [the pool]."

Another factor in making the change involves the life of the bulbs when they're turned off at the end of the day.

"They're on 24/7. But, now, we will be able to program them and run them at 25 percent capacity for emergency purposes only. That makes a difference. That was the main seller for Energy Trust of Oregon to subsidize this project. The number of hours you can turn them off, [being the] main driver of savings. You have that option based on hours of operation," Lemoine explained.

With the new renovation, the lights will be programmed to go off at a certain time, about an hour after the pool closes, which still leaves the lifeguards ample time to clean things up.

"The other thing we did was that we took the underwater lights out. One day … we were touring the pool and then with the lights off, we didn't even notice [that they were on]. You could barely see the difference because it is so shallow. And, really when the pool is deeper, seven feet and deeper, that's when the lights really make a difference," she said.

Overall, the estimated energy savings are more than 34,000 kilowatt hours per year with the change. "And, with the underwater lights being taken out, it's actually probably more. But, just with overhead lights, that's the savings," she added.

What to Consider

In general, when planning for a new lighting system or when making lighting changes, written specifications should be established for performance criteria for playability, environmental light control, life cycle cost savings, maintenance and warranty.

"Multiple variables impact the lighting, structural and electrical decisions for a project," Rogers said. "For example, the quantity and quality of light needed is impacted by facility type and size, players' skill level, spectator capacity, TV requirements and required lighting standards from organizations."

And, when evaluating proposals, it's important to look at both initial and operating costs, which are largely affected by a manufacturer's track record of reliable performance and service.

And, don't forget about the neighbors, either, especially those living next to outdoor sports fields.

"Every owner wants their facility to be a source of pride in the community and not a source of disruptive glare and spill for neighbors," Rogers said. "When evaluating environmental impact, it's important to consider neighboring properties—whether it's roadways, residents, airports or observatories. Often, local ordinances exist to regulate sports lighting.

"Owners should evaluate lighting designs presented by manufacturers to ensure each critical issue is effectively addressed," he added, "and verify results have been achieved for projects with similar concerns."