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Sweetwater Union High School

Lighting retrofit is boon
to district sports program

A district-wide lighting project is saving energy and improving illumination in eight Sweetwater Union High School gymnasiums. Each gym holds approximately 2, 000 spectators and is used for a variety of sports, including basketball, volleyball and badminton, as well as student assemblies.

Previously the facilities were lighted with high output fluorescent fixtures. According to Derry Coughlan, director of maintenance, Sweetwater Union High School District, energy was a key factor in making the switch to HID lighting. Working with San Diego Gas and Electric, the district qualified for an incentive program that included a substantial rebate.

Fixtures installed in the gymnasiums are Holophane Prismalume luminaires with 400 watt metal halide lamps . Payback for the system is 2 .4 years.

"We examined fixtures from several manufacturers and selected the Holophane units based on the quality of the product and the company's reputation. We were also able to work with the local representative and set up a factory direct purchase agreement, which resulted in significant savings to the district, " Coughlan explained.

In every gym, except one, 30 Prismalume fixtures were installed, with spacing of 13' x 20' feet and a mounting height of 24 feet. One gymnasium was a little larger and required 36 fixtures.

The Prismalume fixtures provide 20 percent uplight, which illuminates the white perforated metal ceilings. Walls in the facilities are panelled from the floor to a height of about 8 feet, then painted off-white above that point.

Footcandle levels in the facilities range from 90 to 125, compared to 40 to 50 footcandles measured with the previous system. Although none of the Sweetwater games are televised, the higher illumination levels are elpful to coaches and others who videotape activities.

"The improvement in the quality of the illumination is terrific. Players and spectators alike have commented that even though the lighting seems much brighter, it is very comfortable and improves visibility. We don't have the glare and the shadows we had with the fluorescent fixtures, " Coughlan said.

Presently, the school system is setting up a schedule to clean the fixtures about every six months. Coughlan feels the relatively frequent cleanings will be necessary because of ongoing construction in the area and the resulting dust. He adds, however, that he expects other maintenance to be minimal.

"One of the key benefits that I see as a maintenance person is the decrease in relamping. In the past, it seemed like we were always on a ladder in the gyms, replacing burned out tubes and individual ballasts. Now, we'll be able to go several years without changing the lamps or the ballasts, " Couglan said.

Fixtures in the gymnasiums are illuminated 80 to 90 hours per week. The system is controlled with switches and relays.


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