Parking garages, with their deep interiors and banks of lighting, "consume a surprising amount of energy, and much of it is wasted with lower facility activity at night, when you don't have the ability to control the lighting," explains Diane DeLaTorre, the University of Michigan's associate director for parking operations and maintenance.
It's been one year since U-M installed a new smart lighting system as a pilot project in its Hill Street parking structure
; the investment has paid off in a nearly 58% drop in energy consumption and a 68% cost savings amounting to $32,000 (at current electric rates) over the year. DeLaTorre says the payback period for the new LimeLight lighting control system, which deploys motion detectors, photo cells to detect ambient light, and fixtures programmed to meet usage patterns, is 2.8 years.
The same system was also installed in six out of seven levels of the Thayer Street structure in October 2011, resulting in a 31% energy savings over the first four months. She expects this figure to improve over the year, with longer summer days and more ambient light harvesting.
Re-lighting the Thompson and Glen structures is in the works, DeLaTorre says, adding, "The university is planning to construct a new facility and we fully expect to utilize this or a comparable system for light management."
Source: Diane DeLaTorre, U-M's associate director for parking operations and maintenance
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar