How Much is Your Lighting Retrofit Worth?

02/22/2013 | By Janelle Penny

Dig down to your project’s benefits

A perfect storm of lighting issues led to a 16-floor retrofit for Ohio's largest and oldest health insurer.

The 1,000-plus employees of Medical Mutual of Ohio (MMO), which maintains its corporate headquarters in the Rose Building – a downtown Cleveland landmark – were tired of the dated appearance created by the existing three-lamp T12 lighting.

At the same time, Don Green, MMO's director of building and general services, had been eyeing the phase-out of T12 lamps since that news was announced in 2010. It was time for a change.

Why Retrofit?
The inefficient older fluorescents lighting the 10-story office tower and its six-story annex were projected to consume more than 19 million kWh over an assumed 10-year lifetime, a sum that would eat up roughly $894,617 in energy costs alone, according to Eco Engineering. The high cost coupled with the motivation to improve the building's visual quality led the MMO team to bring in Matt Minard, a lighting engineer at Eco Engineering, to assess the feasibility of a retrofit.

"They wanted to get rid of the deep-cell parabolics and take advantage of a retrofit that would enhance the visual space with more distributed light," Minard explains. "Right before we did the install, a lot of the fixtures were either inoperable or hadn't been maintained properly. Typically, they were three- to four-lamp fixtures, but some of them had one or two lamps in them scattered throughout all of the floors."

The retrofit entailed removing all 2,826 T12 luminaires and replacing them with T8 versions featuring step dimming ballasts and switching controls. The new lamps cost nearly $1 more each ($2.20 per lamp instead of $1.50), but used less energy (28W instead of 34) and came with a lifetime of 30,000 hours – 50% more than the old T12s.

"There were some glare and dimming issues in certain spots," Green explains. "The retrofit kit we chose was the best solution for a number of reasons: we were looking at the phase-out, plus we also wanted to reduce our energy consumption to impact our bottom line and do the right thing from an environmental standpoint."

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