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Lake Michigan College

Lake Michigan College gains visibility,
energy savings with prismatic lighting

Lake Michigan College is a two-year community college set in scenic Benton Harbor, Michigan. Surrounded by trees and cool, clear lakes. The 262-acre campus serves the entire southwestern section of the state, with 2,700 full-time students and 4,200 part-time students.

Because the college is a community institution, the campus' two 28-year old buildings often serve as meeting sites for local groups, as well as providing facilities for students. A combination of poor visibility and notably high energy and maintenance costs prompted a recent lighting retrofit in two lecture halls and the library, located within the main building. HID lighting replaced fluorescent and incandescent fixtures.

"The number of man-hours spent changing incandescent lamps in these three facilities was unbelievable," described Murry Telsworth, director of physical plant services for the college. "This was particularly time-consuming since we had to move a portable high-lift unit from room to room on an almost daily basis."

The two lecture halls, which are 2,400 square feet and 4,000 square feet, were originally lighted by fluorescent luminaires with incandescent fixtures built into the ends. With a 20 to 30 percent slope to the rooms, the front seats, which are tab-arm desks in one room and tables and benches in the other, were particularly dark.

"The lighting was very ineffective for anyone wanting to take notes," said Telsworth. "Low illumination levels and too many shadows made it almost impossible to write."

Even with a wall of glass on the north side, the story in the 28,600-square-foot library was the same. Illumination from incandescent fixtures created dark spots throughout the room, hampering students' ability to read and study , particularly during the evening hours.

During the retrofit, Holophane PrismGlo prismatic glass luminaires with 400-watt metal halide lamps were installed. In the lecture halls, the fixtures are mounted on a three-foot stem, 17 feet above the floor, with spacing 18 feet on center. Luminaires in the library are mounted at 19 feet and spaced 24 feet.

A benefit of the PrismGlo units is 40 percent uplight, which effectively illuminates the bare concrete ceiling in the lecture halls, and the library's dropped tile ceiling. Footcandle levels in the lecture halls are 48 and 52, and 50 to 60 for the library.

"The visibility has improved tremendously, especially as far as the library is concerned. We've received many positive comments from students who can now read at any table at any hour," Telsworth said.

He added that the energy savings are significant, enough to earn the college a $4,000 rebate from Indiana and Michigan Power Company. Based on kilowatt reduction, this is the maximum awarded by the company.

A total of 32 PrismGlo luminaires replaced 108 incandescent fixtures in the library. In the 2,400-square-foot lecture hall, 9 PrismGlo units replaced 52 fluorescent and incandescent combination units, with 12 PrismGlo fixtures replacing 76 combination luminaires in the 4,000-square-foot lecture hall.

A regular maintenance schedule has not been developed. However, the college will dust the fixtures periodically and change the lamps as needed , every two to three years.


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