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Sports Honeywell and Ysleta School District

Ysleta School District finances $7 million
capital improvement from lighting upgrade

"Some of the coaches said 'It's no wonder we couldn't win," said Jim Adams, Honeywell's Branch Manager for West Texas and New Mexico. "They couldn't see the end zone."

With mid-field light levels at 15 to 20 footcandles and only seven footcandles at the goal line, Ysleta's football fields had lighting problems and needed improvements. In addition, the schools in El Paso's Ysleta independent school district were badly in need of repair, but like many other school districts there was no money to fund such a project.

That was until they asked Honeywell's Home and Building Control Division in Lubbock to see if they might find any operational and/or utility savings that could be used to fund capital improvements. According to Adams, Honeywell asked lighting experts from Holophane Lighting, Inc., Newark, Ohio, to help them with the surveying process. After surveying the schools, Holophane suggested that the district replace its football field's incandescent lighting with 1,500-watt metal halide high intensity discharge (HID) floodlights and upgrade classroom light fixtures with new T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts.

Honeywell and Holophane determined that by doing this the district would reduce its electrical usage by 500 percent and save $760,000 a year in energy costs (as part of a 54-campus lighting retrofit project), thereby generating enough money to fund much needed improvements in its schools.

Bel Air, Eastwood, Parkland and Ysleta High Schools are just four of 53 schools in the Ysleta school district built between 1918 and 1988 that needed drastic lighting, HVAC, and fire alarm improvements to continue to remain operational. The problem was that the district had only enough funds to maintain its current systems that were at best inefficient. "The schools were deteriorating and they didn't have capital money to put back into them," Adams said. "By just replacing old, outdated systems that they did have, they were able to fund these improvements through a 10-year lease-purchase agreement."

According to Adams, the lease-purchase agreement was made possible through projected energy savings realized by replacing 744 incandescent bulbs with 144 Holophane Prismbeam II metal halide floodlights as well as 40,000 electronic ballasts and 80,000 T-8 fluorescent tables. With this relatively simple upgrade, the wattage needed to light all four football fields dropped from 1,116,000 watts to 216,000 watts. Wattage in each light fixture dropped from 168 to 64 watts. The change will save the district about $7 million over 10 years. Among other improvements, this money will be used to install new fire alarm systems and lead-free drinking fountains.

The Classrooms
At the classroom level, Honeywell and Holophane replaced lamps and ballasts in existing fluorescent fixtures. These fixtures, which were the "egg-crate" style typical of the 50s and 60s, were very inefficient in terms of energy consumption and lighting efficiency. "Very little attention was paid to energy efficiency in the 50s and 60s when most of these schools were built," Adams said. "So they put a lot more light fixtures in the classrooms than are needed when compared with today's standards."

Most of the classrooms had standard 2' x 4' fixtures with two, 40-watt fluorescent lamps and electromagnetic ballasts mounted at a height between 8 and 10 feet. Working after school hours, the lighting crew cleaned, replaced and removed unneeded fixtures to improve the lighting in the classrooms. The average light level before the upgrade was less than 30 footcandles. Now, with the new fixtures, it's nearly 50 footcandles on average. Exit fixtures that had 50 watt incandescent lamps were also upgraded with 7 watt fluorescent lamps to further reduce energy usage and improve visibility.

Honeywell is now conducting an energy-awareness program for the teachers and administrators to demonstrate the importance of energy conservation. Moreover, the school district has put each school on its own budget and provided an incentive to consume less by allowing the schools to roll utility savings into new school supplies, such as books and special programs. According to Adams, there was very little incentive for the school staff to operate efficiently before this change.

Many great things have come as a result of this project. Holophane, for example, has developed a new retrofit kit called Prismawrap¬ that is specifically designed to improve the lighting efficiency of the type of fixtures found in the Ysleta schools. This kit can be used in thousands of other schools with similar fixtures. Honeywell has in effect expanded its service offering to include large-scale lighting renovation and long-term maintenance agreements. The Ysleta schools found a way to improve their facilities and their quality of education without having to ask the community for financial assistance.

And most importantly, they've learned that once the playing field is properly lit, the goal is easy to attain.


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