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Metro Airport To Convert To LED Lighting In Parking Structures

DETROIT (WWJ) -- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) announced this week that it will replace all 6,050 lighting fixtures in both of its parking structures and increase the number of fixtures by 19 percent -- yet still save 66 percent on its annual power bill, by switching to light-emitting diode (LED) lights.

The project, approved by the Wayne County Airport Authority board this month, will replace the 1,200 existing 210-watt metal halide fixtures in the Blue Deck with 2,400 80-watt LED fixtures. The LED fixtures will be set at a maximum of 60 watts.

All 4,800 existing 210-watt fixtures in the McNamara Terminal Parking Structure will be replaced with the LED fixtures operating at a maximum of 60 watts as well.

The project, competitively bid and awarded to Michigan-based Rauhorn Electric, Inc., is expected to cost $6.2 million.

The anticipated annual reduction of energy consumption by more than 7,345,000 kilowatt-hours in combination with reduced labor and material costs will save WCAA approximately $1.2 million a year, based on today's electric rates.

The existing lights need to be replaced on average once every 13 months whereas the new Cooper LED lights are guaranteed to meet minimum lighting levels for 10 years.

The Authority may also be eligible for DTE Energy efficiency incentives.

"This project will produce multiple desirable outcomes," said WCAA CEO Tom Naughton. "It will improve the lighting in our parking facilities, reduce energy consumption, save on maintenance costs and shrink our carbon footprint."

In addition to the new fixtures, the project incorporates smart light controls in both parking structures. The controls sense activity in the structures and observe ambient light levels, allowing the airport to gain more savings by reducing lighting levels during times when no activity occurs. The controls can activate each LED fixture to provide ample lighting upon sensing pedestrians and vehicles. While the current parking lights run 24 hours per day, the new fixtures and Smart Controls will be able to harvest daylight and reduce power to the fixtures as appropriate.

"Airport consultants believe this may be the largest single conversion from incandescent lighting to LED ever achieved in the nation," said Ali Dib, the airport authority's director of infrastructure and engineering. "The project will improve both lighting levels and distribution in both facilities and will standardize light fixtures to reduce inventory and increase maintenance efficiency." 

Dib's department and Walker Parking Consultants field tested 12 different "low bay" light fixtures in actual locations in the Blue Deck. Airport staff also visited local municipalities, which completed parking garage lighting upgrades, accumulating lessons learned.

In addition to their long useful life, LEDs are more shock resistant than fluorescent and incandescent bulbs and light up very quickly after power interruptions.

"The energy saved in this project is equivalent to powering 880 U.S. households for one year, and the reduction of 7,000 metric tons of CO2 per year is equal to taking 1,350 passenger vehicles off the road," said Dib.

The project is expected to commence next month and be complete by September 2014.

"It is a significant initial investment," said Naughton. "But I will be smiling every month when I pay the electric bill."

Metro Airport welcomed more than 32 million passengers in 2012 to flights from 13 scheduled passenger airlines. Michigan's largest airport offers more than 1,200 flights per day to and from nearly 150 non-stop destinations on four continents.

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