Grant MacEwan University achieves savings and enhanced lighting quality

Grant MacEwan University (Edmonton) is an innovative educational institution focused on student learning. The school also strives to exemplify the value of environmental stewardship throughout the 139,354-m2 (1.5-million sf) campus.

In January 2010, MacEwan initiated a project to replace all 6500 T12 fluorescent luminaries with volumetric lighting fixtures well suited for school, hospital, and office applications.

EPCOR Technologies provided the project’s design and consulting services. The company’s Randy Shippit explained an energy audit was conducted for the facility and a key area of focus was reducing energy consumption.

“The existing deep-cell luminaries were 15 to 20 years old, were not energy-efficient, and provided poor lighting quality,” he said.

Shippit worked with MacEwan for more than a year to identify the most effective and efficient lighting solution to achieve three specific goals: reduce energy consumption, enhance lighting quality, and remain within the university’s budget to replace more than 6500 luminaries throughout the campus.

“Initially, MacEwan requested indirect lighting for classrooms,” said Shippit. “However, indirect lighting would be expensive and very labour-intensive because of the ceiling height. As a result, we looked at different options, including fluorescent fixtures.”

The original deep-cell luminaries were 508-mm (20-in.) wide fixtures, compared to the standard of 609-mm (24 in.)—this added a special challenge to the retrofit project.

MacEwan agreed to place an initial order of 150 florescent relight fixtures and install them on a test basis. Installing the 150 fixtures proved to be a much faster and easier labour process than expected because the product was manufactured to retrofit with minimum labour into the existing lighting luminaries and re-use existing luminaries housings, rather than replacing them.

The test was well-received and approved; in January 2010, MacEwan completed the project, replacing all 6500 fixtures. In addition to the labour savings, the university is pleased with the lighting quality, illumination levels, two levels of energy savings, and the general appearance of the volumetric lighting system. The two-step ballast also provides various illumination options integrating with the facility’s existing low-voltage switching system.

“The rooms look substantially different because the volumetric effect distributes the light much more efficiently,” said Shippit. “There is also a 20 per cent increase in the colour rendering from the older lamps to the new ones. The lighting with enhanced colour rendering makes the greens, blues, and reds much more vibrant.”

MacEwan will continue to reap the benefits of the energy savings for years to come. “If the university had decided to move forward with indirect lighting for the classroom, they could have used twice the energy,” said Shippit. “Because of the retrofit, MacEwan is now experiencing energy savings between 47 and 60 per cent, by using the two-level switching options.”

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