Lighting Controls for an Ever-Changing College Environment


Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, recently proved that a state-of-the-art lighting system is not only good for the students and the environment, but also for bottom lines.

The college serves a diverse student community throughout three campuses. Its lighting system was nearly a quarter century old and represented technology and deployment that was characteristic of its time. Lighting was neither energy-efficient nor locally addressable, and the static implementation meant few options in re-configuring classrooms, offices and other spaces. A redesign was in order, but not at the forefront of the institute’s priorities.

Previously, Georgian had been considering a needed renovation of the college’s HVAC system. However, the school realized that its desire to reduce energy consumption and the attendant costs would have to be seen in a broader context in order to be genuinely representative of potential savings. Georgian needed more than a compartmentalized fix for HVAC. It wanted to modernize its entire energy ecosystem.

A new lighting system had to satisfy numerous criteria. Expected energy savings alone would not do; any new system would have to be flexible enough to adapt along with the school’s evolving needs, with configurable fixtures and illumination levels throughout each building and room. It would have to be more economical to run than the existing system, but would also have to provide improved lighting, not only for the students and faculty, but for attendant services such as security and custodial staff. Most importantly, the solution had to be financially viable, saving money while allowing the school to pay for the system out of its own operating budget, through realized energy savings.

e-Lumen International Inc., Vaughan, Ontario-based lighting consultancy, was asked to assess possibilities and plot the new system. After five weeks of study, the agreed-upon solution was the implementation of a system throughout the campuses.

The chosen system was “the only solution that met all the strategic lighting requirements for this project,” said Phil Santia, P.E., partner at e-Lumen. The system allows the school to centrally and locally dictate light levels throughout buildings, corridors and rooms, and customize lighting schemes to each environment, even accounting for seasons and time of day, thanks to innovative daylight harvesting capabilities. And because the system contains only nine components, installation would prove very easy.

Jeff Choma, manager of mechanical and electrical systems, oversaw the installation. “We really took the time to select the best technology for our campus,” he said. “We looked into full-voltage, DALI, and IP addressable ballasts.”The project encompassed approximately 3,300 lighting fixtures throughout seven campus buildings, a number that represented a 30% reduction in the number of the existing fixtures, yet one that still produced more and better illumination. To create the ideal system, the consultants had recommended conversion of the entire lighting infrastructure down to 120 volts from 347 volts.

Existing fixtures were removed and a combination of standard lighting and T5 fixtures fitted with the control system and dimmable ballasts were installed. The school hired electrical contractors to retrofit the fixtures and add communication wire where needed. Existing wiring was used whenever possible, with transformers used where this was not feasible. Once the wiring was in place, a system of daylight sensors, occupancy sensors and in-wall controls were installed, all of which could be programmed by the school staff itself.

As a result, Georgian is saving over 70% in energy costs over the previous lighting system. Cost reductions aside, the new lighting deployment has opened exciting workplace possibilities for students, teachers and staff at Georgian.

For more about Lutron’s EcoSystem, click here .

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