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Parking Garages Seattle-Tacoma Airport Parking Garage

Lighting system minimizes criminal activity &
terrorist threats at Seattle-Tacoma International

With airports across America taking steps to guard against terrorist attacks, Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport increased security by upgrading the facility’s 5-million-square-foot, seven-story parking garage. Sea-Tac is one of the nation’s busiest airports and is key to the economic success of the Pacific Northwest and much of North America and the Pacific Rim.

The parking garage was constructed in five separate sections and in four different phases during a span of 30 years. Until recently, the facility was illuminated with a high-pressure sodium system that created shadows and dark spots and had poor color rendering capabilities. Visibility was poor not only for drivers and pedestrians, but for security personnel monitoring the surveillance cameras.

“Because the garage is such a heavy traffic area, it must be safe and secure for everyone who uses it,” said David Bloxom, principal, ECS Engineering, Seattle. “Color is important so pedestrians, drivers and security personnel can distinguish vehicles.”

Before specifying a lighting fixture, ECS evaluated systems from several manufacturers by installing them in an area within the garage. Based on the systems’ performance, Bloxom specified 6,400 Bantam Enduralume® fixtures from Holophane with 100- and 175-watt metal halide lamps in the driving, parking and pedestrian areas. The Bantam units include an enclosed glass refractor that provides the necessary balance of vertical and horizontal illumination to promote lighting uniformity.

“We wanted to be able to use a single fixture with different wattage lamps at various mounting heights and with different ceiling types,” said Bloxom. “During the on-site test, the Bantam luminaires exhibited excellent lighting uniformity and color rendering without glare. The fixtures also received the highest rating from maintenance personnel because of their tool-less entry for lamp replacement.”

Energy was a consideration since the facility had limited power to operate the luminaires during both normal and emergency situations. Since the main objective was to increase security, the new lighting system was designed with higher illumination levels.

The Bantam luminaires were mounted from 7’6” to 11’6”throughout the garage, depending upon the clearance heights. The units were spaced from 10 to 60 feet, with the spacing dictated by the mounting heights and ceiling construction. Ceiling materials range from smooth concrete with widely spaced beams to a “waffle” construction with four-foot-square, 18-inch deep recesses.

Luminaires with 100-watt lamps were mounted inside the recesses in areas with the waffle ceiling construction. Fixtures with 175-watt metal halide lamps were installed between the beams in areas where the concrete ceiling is smooth. Illumination levels are a minimum of 7 footcandles, with a maximum average uniformity ratio of 4 to 1, and a maximum to minimum ratio of 10 to 1. The fixtures are illuminated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“By fine-tuning the lighting design, we were able to dramatically improve pedestrian safety and driver visibility,” said Bloxom. “The new lighting system enhances the detail and color definition that are visible through the new security cameras, which means the public is better protected against both criminal activity and terrorist threats.”

Since the garage is a public access area, ECS followed Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) guidelines for emergency egress lighting. Some of the new luminaires were connected to the existing emergency generator system and utilize quartz re-strike lamps. However, because existing power sources were at capacity, most of the new emergency egress fixtures could not be connected to the existing system.

ECS specified four emergency lighting uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units to power more than 1,000 emergency egress fixtures. Since the UPS system assures power to the fixtures is constant, ECS installed the Bantam luminaires connected to the UPS units without quartz re-strike lamps.

All of the lighting fixtures were installed with the HALT™ Automatic Lamp Time-out device from Holophane to protect the people who use the garage as well as maintenance staff. The device reduces the potential for non-passive end of life failure of the metal halide lamps by extinguishing the lamps for 15 minutes each week. The HALT device is designed so that all of the lamps on a circuit cannot cycle simultaneously.

“The Bantam luminaires and HALT device offered the flexibility we needed to efficiently and effectively illuminate the garage,” said Bloxom. “Pedestrians and drivers feel safe any time they utilize the facility.”


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