When Moravian College tapped Petrucci and Cerminara as the design-build lead and architect of record for its new fitness center, it was a foregone conclusion that the 10,000-square-foot campus addition would contain the most efficient lighting. With available funding, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, school also decided to retrofit the adjacent Athletics and Recreation Center (ARC) to meet similar standards.
Photo © Barry Halkin Photography\Lutron Electronics
The ARC, which comprises buildings from 1952 and 1991, needed the help. “The recreation and athletic gyms had HID [high-intensity discharge] lighting, and the foot-candles were very inconsistent,” says Bill Marushak, who is responsible for the education vertical market for Lutron. He also notes, “Someone would come in at 6 in the morning and hit the switch, and the HIDs would warm up for 20 or 30 minutes and then run at 100 percent until midnight. Yet there were occasions when only a handful of people would occupy a gymnasium. When you don’t operate like that anymore, there’s a significant energy reduction right off the top.”
In addition to replacing existing luminaires with a high-bay product with fluorescent dimming ballasts, Lutron also retrofitted the ARC with one of its Quantum control systems. The school determined presets for various events like competitions and guest speakers, and it relies on IR-enabled sensors—specifically engineered to read movement from the distance of a gymnasium ceiling—to ensure that lights are dimmed or extinguished according to simpler occupancy or user absence.
While replacing the existing HID lighting alone could have yielded significant operational efficiencies, Doug Plotts, Moravian’s director of facilities management, planning, and construction, clarifies, “The occupancy sensors and preset lighting settings significantly increase the energy savings potential of the system.” Because Quantum is wireless, the retrofit did not require intervention into historic fabric.
The fitness center component of the project includes an additional layer of performance. A majority of the 130 luminaires are Finelite fixtures outfitted with T5HO lamps, and seven occupancy sensors work in tandem with 12 daylight sensors. Plotts explains: “The system includes preset light levels and responds to occupancy sensors, much like the gyms, but it also incorporates automated window-treatment controls during occupancy.” Through another Lutron system called Hyperion, PVC mesh panels raise and lower according to the position of the sun vis-à-vis the location and orientation of the building and windows. (The system now includes a plug-in for fine-tuning window opacity for thermal gain.) Quantum manages the balance between incoming natural illumination and dimmable electric lighting. Compared to a similar space without dimmers or shades, the fitness center consumes 43 percent lessenergy.
The efficiency yields in the ARC are even more noteworthy. Measured against the original HID scheme, the recreational and competition gyms now require 83 percent and 71 percent less energy, respectively. That equates to $10,000 in annual operations savings. Moreover, Marushak explains that the retrofit has impacts that are not exactly quantifiable, such as more uniform lighting on plain surfaces, which allows student-athletes to engage in scholarship more easily. Plotts adds, “The new lighting output puts Moravian in contention to host events. The school did not previously meet certain lighting requirements [for formal athletic competitions].”
The multiple positive outcomes have persuaded Moravian officials to consider expanding their investment. While the college could go as far as integrating lighting with building automation, its first step is to install lighting controls in other buildings. Benefits of the decision include monitoring facilities from one dedicated location, and managing both campus-wide lighting scenes and individual events from there. “Once you have the head-end control system, using the system in additional buildings becomes easy, if control within that building represents a reasonable payback in energy conservation,” Plotts says.