Car dealership illuminates lighting design

This car dealership’s lighting design improves the buying experience for the customer.

By Shanna Olson, LC, MIES, KJWW Engineering Consultants, Chicago July 15, 2014

The DP Fox Ford and Lincoln dealership on Chicago’s north side bridges sustainability, innovation, and an elegant design with clean lines. Beyond energy reduction, other programmatic requirements include providing interior and exterior environments that increase sales, marry the needs of two dealerships into one aesthetic, minimize maintenance, and are within budget.

This 150,000-sq-ft project is under construction and pursuing LEED Certification. The interior lighting is just shy of 10% better than ASHRAE 90.1-2010 and the exterior is well over 40% better.

As with any dealership, the illumination of the vehicle inventory sales parking is critical. Ceramic metal halide (CMH), LED, and even fluorescent sources were analyzed for the illumination levels, efficacy and W/sq ft, maintenance, control, initial cost, and total lifecycle cost. While LED was preferred for its maintenance and control options, it was significantly cost prohibitive at the preferred light levels. As an alternate, a high-efficacy CMH pole-mount with a 0 to 10 V dimming system was used. After business hours the luminaires are set to reduce their lumen output by 30%. This will allow for continued advertisement while reducing energy.

The 7,000-sq-ft, double-height volume interior vehicle showroom is divided into two distinct showrooms for brand separation. The showroom includes a 22-ft-high open-angled ceiling that presented a number of design challenges. Extended-life T5HO fluorescent slot fixtures create continuity between the two spaces while single- and dual-head CMH adjustable heads provide the needed directional punch. To maximize the ceiling height, the plenum was minimized. This required tight coordination among all disciplines and the team took full advantage of the software tools that Autodesk Revit and Navisworks offer. In adjacent showrooms, lounges, and new car delivery, LED luminaires were used to balance the higher required energy used in the showroom.

The project used a 0 to 10 V network dimming control system with software front end. However, as with many retailers, the programmatic goals did not include daylight harvesting in retail areas; the design team took full advantage of ASHRAE 90.1-2010’s daylight harvesting exception for retail spaces.

The new dealership location was selected for its proximity and visibility to the adjacent freeway, and the dealership was specifically designed to optimize visibility from a variety of vantage points. Car stackers behind a high-performing glass curtain wall system at the front of the third level act as an interactive, large-format advertisement. A slow-moving dimming control sequence is set up to highlight individual cars amongst the stackers. To accomplish this, at each stacker level, four vertical track runs with 12 adjustable heads are provided. The design team initially considered integral LED track heads for efficacy and punch. However, with the quickly evolving nature of LEDs and in an effort to reduce cost, the team chose LED replacement lamps.

The project showcases the new direction of retail. The lighting is an integral component of the innovative integrated design that highlights an interactive, user-friendly experience while reducing energy and maintenance.  

Shanna Olson is Senior Lighting Designer for KJWW Engineering Consultants. She is NCQLP certified and experienced in creating lighting designs for municipal, health care, educational, commercial, and residential clients.