Energy Efficiency | March 21, 2018
The Benefits of Modern Lighting on Parking Areas
As any seasoned facility manager can tell you, there are ample opportunities to reduce a company’s energy usage both inside and outside of their buildings. Production facilities, warehouses and labs often use the most power, but external areas, such as parking lots and garages, must not be overlooked. When prioritizing the energy optimization projects at your facilities, take the time to examine whether you have LED lighting and how these locations are performing.
Why energy efficiency matters to parking garages
No matter the industry you work in, employee safety is always paramount. This extends to the outdoor areas on your campus as well. There have been a variety of advances in streetlights and other forms of exterior illumination over the last several years that offer additional incentives to upgrade the lighting in your parking areas.
In addition to energy savings, modern LED’s are far brighter than previous lighting options that cover large swaths of outdoor spaces. As a result, the increased visibility from a new lighting scheme will help both drivers and pedestrians to be less apt to cause an accident as well as decrease potential criminal activity.
Dramatic reductions in energy usage can also be obtained in retrofitting existing lighting systems because a lighting retrofit:
Decreases the amount of electricity each lighting fixture uses
Limits the time that the lights are activated
Previously, finding exterior lighting solutions that were both energy efficient and cost effective has been challenging. As a result, old metal halide and high pressure sodium lighting have proliferated parking areas across the country. Even worse, much of the older technology has been unable to integrate a control scheme.
Today, solutions based on LEDs are proliferating the market. It’s no surprise as to why: LED’s use less energy and offer excellent energy savings, improved directionality over other options, better color rendition, longer life, and instant-on capability (eliminating the wasted power from a light fixture slowly ramping on).
Additionally, other benefits have begun to become integrated into LED fixtures that further decrease energy usage, like solar panels and other forms of energy harvesting technology, auto dimming, etc.
LED lighting controls and their impact on parking areas
In years past, lights in parking garages were either on all of the time or controlled by sensors that monitor when light in the surrounding environment has decreased to a level that necessitates the light turning on (in simple terms, the lights turn on when the sun goes down, assuming the garage had windows or other openings).
As you can imagine, this leaves ample room for energy waste.
Not all businesses have overnight shifts that call for constant illumination or generate sufficient foot traffic toward the same end. If this sounds familiar, you’ll be happy to know that systems are available that can activate lighting based on motion (cars or people) and timers, helping to activate the lighting only when it is needed and for the briefest possible time.
However, whether you’re installing lighting in a new build or retrofitting an existing scheme, it’s important to use an experienced ESCO to ensure that it works safely and efficiently.
As an example, the system will need to be calibrated based on the use of the parking areas by staff and/or customers, otherwise you run the risk of the system activating when it’s not needed (wasting energy and money) or deactivating when people need it the most (increasing accidents and other safety concerns).
No longer an afterthought, lighting in parking areas has become an increasingly important avenue that businesses are examining for both energy savings and increased staff and customer safety. Interested in learning more? Our Efficiency Solutions Division has an extensive history across the country in installing lighting systems for both new build and retrofit projects, including parking lots and garages.
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