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energy management
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Lighting retrofits have proven to be an incredible, cost-saving solution for buildings of all kinds—from hospitals, hotels, office buildings, and more. Ten years ago, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) decided to invest in new lighting technology and sensors to be more sustainable and reduce its overall energy consumption.

CSUDH’s Central Plant and Energy Manager, Kenny Seeton, led this cost and energy saving lighting retrofit project. After an evaluation of the existing lighting system, a two-month pilot project was conducted. Environmental science students researched several product options, and Seeton chose to go with Enlighted because of its advanced sensors which include:

  • Daylight harvesting – The sensors adjust light levels as natural light changes the need for overhead light, based on weather and time of day.
  • Motion sensing – During work hours when spaces are unoccupied, lamps in fixtures equipped with the advanced sensors idle from zero to 10% luminosity until “human-specific” motion is detected.
  • Digital PIR sensing – The sensors are designed to ignore other heat-producing items, such as fax, printers, and computers or changes in the environment produced by HVAC systems.

Since embarking on this retrofit, CSUDH has had $1 million in total energy savings. The successful outcome in the first couple installations led to further sensor installations on campus.

To learn more about this lighting retrofit and its impacts on the university’s operations, Facility Executive discussed this project with Seeton:

FE: How is the university using IoT technology and real-time occupancy data to reduce energy consumption?

Kenny Seeton: Knowing that buildings generate nearly 50% of all annual global CO2 emissions, and building operations are responsible for 27% of that figure, we at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) have made it our responsibility to be wise and equitable stewards of scarce energy resources by increasing our energy efficiency and supporting our carbon neutrality commitments as a university and as a member of the California State University system.

To work towards this goal, CSUDH chose to deploy Enlighted’s IoT technology because of the several unique benefits its advanced sensors provide to the university. To date, the university is using Enlighted’s technology in over one million square feet on campus specifically for its ability to help us manage task tuning, daylight harvesting, and occupancy sensing. Building data gleaned from Enlighted’s platform is viewed in a dashboard and, in turn, allows us to make smart lighting decisions and conserve energy by adjusting light levels and HVAC delivery based on real-time occupancy data.

So far, CSUDH has saved over $1 million in heating and cooling costs due to these efficiencies.

FE: How long has the university had sensor units that adjust light levels?

KS: We have been using sensors to adjust light levels for ten years. As background, in our initial pilot, four sensors were integrated with each of four existing fluorescent fixtures (replacing existing fluorescent ballasts) outside of the IT suite. The energy monitoring results were then shared with an Earth Sciences class. A group of students studied the performance data from the sensors, which supported the case to expand the pilot to include all corridors in Welch Hall, as well as in its IT offices and the server room. The proven successes of this pilot eventually laid the groundwork to justify making Enlighted our campus standard. A combination of ongoing retrofits, grant opportunities, and large-scale building projects enabled this standard to continue rolling out campus-wide to the point where these sensors are standard in almost every space on campus.

The project team was not timid in testing the limits of energy savings with the system either. Corridor lights in the Welch Hall facility were set at 10% to 35% of full brightness. In the IT office spaces, most of the lights were set at 30% to 50%.

There is power to the fixtures in the Welch Hall corridors from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but with the advanced sensors, instead of those lights being on at 100%, the highest they ever go is 35%. And you don’t notice it. That’s how much we were over-lit there; we couldn’t do that with just an occupancy sensor.

FE: How was the university still able to hold classes during the September 2022 heatwave in California?

Read the full article "This CA University Saved $1M After Lighting Retrofit" on Facility Executive Magazine.

Facility Executive Magazine