Poulsen LED Retrofit

The University of Chicago is a proud ENERGY STAR Partner, working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and our peer institutions to find ways to reduce higher education campus energy usage.  The goal of this program is threefold: (1) reducing our impact on the environment as our energy usage is about 75% of our total carbon footprint; (2) reducing our operating cost to free up funding for other campus maintenance needs; and (3) enabling our talented technicians to perform more critical tasks on a large and complex campus portfolio. 

As part of this initiative, University of Chicago’s Facilities Services recently completed the installation of over 800 LED replacement lamps in the Poulsen lights throughout campus. The Louis Poulsen Albertslund Maxi Post (Poulsen) light is easily recognized as the typical outdoor light throughout much of campus. The Poulsen light, designed by Jens Moller-Jensen, has become a part of the overall campus aesthetic and the team worked hard to find a solution that met the University’s initiative goals without changing the aesthetic.  In addition to the above stated goals, the solution installed has a higher color resolution, more consistent output and lower chance of failure helping to make our campus safer from a lighting level and lighting quality perspective.

 Brian Bozell, energy & utilities manager, and Bob Moss, electric shop foreman, worked closely together to plan and implement the 3-month project that reduces energy consumption, material cost, and greenhouse gas emissions.  Bozell explained,  “The retrofit  project not only contributed to our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal by reducing electricity consumption but also provides benefits such as longer lamp life span, more consistent light output, and lower material costs in the future.”

The Electric Shop began testing different types of lamps for efficiency and aesthetics six years ago. Moss explained, “Initially, we could not locate a lamp that met our design and safety requirements. Fortunately, as technology improved lumen output for LED replacement lamps increased.” Once the preferred 25-Watt LED lamp was selected, Bozell calculated the energy conservation and initiated the procurement process for the materials.  The University of Chicago Electric Shop provided the labor to retrofit the fixtures from the existing 100-Watt metal halide lamps.

The new lights are controlled by the Siemens Building Automation System (BAS) based on an astronomical time clock along with a photocell for overriding the programming when outdoor light levels drop such as during extreme overcast weather. The impact on electric shop efficiency is significant. “Since the replacement, no Poulsen lights have gone out in months. Previously, we issued work orders every morning for lamp replacements. Now, electricians are available for the other projects in our queue.” Moss said.

As a result of this project, electricity consumption will be reduced by approximately 75%, the LED lamps will last 2.5 times longer resulting in less labor to replace burned out lamps, and the LED lamp material cost will be 35% lower than the existing metal halide lamp cost over the rated lifespan of the LED lamp. Payback for the final project cost will be approximately 3.9 years.

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