Six strategies give university a ‘lighting’ edge

At Coppin State University, a sophisticated lighting control system helped the Science and Technology Center achieve energy efficiency.

By Robert J. Garra Jr., PE, CDT, CannonDesign, Grand Island, N.Y. February 11, 2015

The energy performance of Baltimore-based Coppin State University’s Science and Technology Center, which is pending U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification, is 20% below the baseline for an equivalent code-compliant lab building. One major factor in achieving this superior performance is the building’s highly sophisticated lighting control system, using both time scheduling and occupancy control, plus four additional strategies: daylight harvesting, task tuning, personal control, and load shedding. Combined, these six strategies significantly reduce the building’s electricity consumption and maximize efficiency.
In most spaces, occupancy sensors signal the central lighting control system to switch lights off 30 minutes after a space is vacated. Unlike a typical occupancy sensor scheme, the system does not turn lights on—only off. Occupants manually activate lighting in each lighting zone via a low-voltage switch. In the lab spaces, control is granulated to each lab module with adjustable light levels based on task or occupancy. This option allows faculty and students the most ideal light level for tasks without impacting others sharing the same area. To maximize daylight harvesting, the system automatically dims lighting when daylight is available, disallowing user override. To prevent overlighting, the system sets maximum lighting levels for particular tasks and uses in specific rooms. In individual workspaces, users are able to tailor lighting to their personal preferences, even in open offices. The system also helps modulate building-wide electrical loads by reducing light levels in certain areas at times of peak demand.
This project was designed to exceed the energy code requirements of ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007.

Robert J. Garra Jr. is vice president at CannonDesign. An engineering leader who understands clients and their goals, Garra applies his project leadership and industry knowledge across the firm’s market segments, while providing strategic direction to the engineering group. He effectively manages integrated projects by encouraging multidisciplinary, high-performance design teams among CannonDesign, contractors, and clients. He is a Consulting-Specifying Engineer 2013 40 Under 40 award winner.