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Libraries Clemson University - Library

Clemson University slashes energy and
maintenance costs with Illuminaire

lighting system from Holophane

Clemson University boosted the light levels in the lobby of its high traffic Robert Muldrow Cooper Library and cut energy consumption by more than half by retrofitting the existing fluorescent lighting system with high intensity discharge (HID) fixtures. The 3,000-square-foot lobby, which has 32-foot tall glass on one side—was previously lit with 200 four-foot fluorescent fixtures. Three T-12 lamps were installed for every two fixtures.

Access to the lobby is provided on the fourth floor of the building, with three levels below ground. Balconies on the library’s fifth and sixth levels overlook the three-story lobby, with a 25-foot wide central staircase reaching to the fifth floor. The fluorescent fixtures were installed across the 32-foot ceiling.

“The fluorescent fixtures had become a maintenance nightmare, and an eyesore,” said Allen Lohman, project manager, university facilities, Clemson University. “At the time we removed the fixtures, more than 70 percent of the units were burned out. Because of the ceiling height and the fact that many of the fixtures were installed above the staircase and balconies, it was impossible to access them with a motorized scaffold. Sometimes, a couple of years passed before we were able to change the lamps.”

Because Cooper Library is a showpiece for the university, aesthetics were a concern during the retrofit. The lighting system also had to provide enough illumination to light displays and exhibits on the fourth floor without any supplemental fixtures.

To fulfill these lighting needs, the university installed 11 pendant-mounted Egg Illuminaire® lighting fixtures from Holophane with 400-watt metal halide lamps. The uniquely shaped Egg luminaire includes borosilicate glass optics that provide 25 percent uplight to illuminate the suspended acoustical ceiling.

“Department personnel selected the luminaires based on their simplicity and clean lines,” said Lohman. “The library is a very beautiful facility with its exterior landscaping and reflection pool. Since the lobby provides a view of the pool, the staff wanted a lighting system that would enhance the look of the facility but would not seem intrusive.”

The lighting fixtures are mounted on 10-foot stems, with nine of the fixtures installed on the ceiling on 13-foot centers. Two of the luminaires are mounted on columns at the top of the staircase. Illumination levels are 31 footcandles average maintained.

One of the challenges in designing the lighting system was to create a fixture layout that would not create maintenance problems. Lohman said that while he wanted to provide sufficient illumination on the staircase, he did not want to install the luminaires directly above the structure because they would be too hard to reach.

The lighting system was designed so the fixtures form a ring around the staircase, with none of the luminaires installed directly above the stairs. The fixtures are also positioned so they provide an unobstructed view of the pond for individuals standing on the balconies.

Because of the ceiling height, the Illuminaire units are remote ballasted, with the ballasts installed in an electrical closet that can be easily accessed for maintenance. Eight-gauge wiring was installed to prevent voltage loss.

As a result of the retrofit, energy consumption has decreased from 12,000 watts for the fluorescent luminaires to 3,900 watts for the Illuminaire units.

“The Illuminaire fixtures are much more efficient than the previous system,” said Lohman. “People like the new lighting system because it enhances the appearance of the space without grabbing attention like a chandelier. The fixtures are also much easier to maintain.”

The lighting fixtures are illuminated about 20 hours a day and are controlled by a relay switch on an electrical panel.


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