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Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofts to lighting design


How one Dallas parking garage increased light levels and achieved 14-month payback while using 500 fewer fixtures in LED retrofit

Posted by Jules Tompkins on


after image of retrofitted garage

The Galleria Towers in Dallas, Texas recently retrofitted the lighting in its 4,500-space parking garage to LED. The project was originally drawn up to increase security for the Galleria tenants who parked in the garage, as the previous lighting system left dark, dim spots throughout the garage.

"Our nearly 5,000 tenants love the new, brighter lighting in the garage," Galleria Chief Engineer Cliff McBryde said. "They no longer feel vulnerable, as the garage no longer has the dark, shadowy corners that were common under the old fluorescent lighting system."

While safety was achieved with the retrofit, so were big-time energy savings.

The Galleria's new LED lighting fixtures use more than 50 percent less wattage and the garage uses 20 percent fewer fixtures than it previously did, going from approximately 2,600 to around 2,100. The combination of these reductions led to a rapid, 14-month payback for the commercial office property, which is operated by CBRE.

 Read about the Galleria's retrofit here.

5 parking garage lighting tips 

There are parking garages on nealry every corner of America's city centers. With that in mind, we know a lot of our customers are responsible for maintaining those very garages, so we worked with one of our Dallas area lighting specialists, Bo Klune, to help your garage see similar results to what the Galleria achieved.

Consider the five tips below as you assess the lighting in your parking garage.

1. Light output = safety

Surveillance cameras and security cameras help people to feel safer in parking garages, but they are no substitute for light. High light output repels criminal activity and aids visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. If there are areas of your garage that feel unsafe, that's a problem that is easily solved by good lighting.

The Galleria boosted its light levels to assure its tenants were safe while walking, driving, and parking in the parking garage. 

2. Consider maintenance costs and challenges

If there is any place meant for long-life lighting, it's a parking garage. Not only does parking garage lighting burn more consistently than most any other application – requiring more regular maintenance – but it's difficult and costly to service.

Shutting down entire rows of a parking lot to change out a fixture or a ballast is a headache most chief engineers would rather avoid. Getting long-life lighting into a parking garage cuts down on those headaches and the resources required for coping with them.

3. Energy savings are low-hanging fruit

Once again, the long burn time of a parking garage adds a multiplier effect to the energy savings you can experience by switching to more efficient lighting. If, for example, you reduce your wattage by 50 percent by switching from fluorescent to LED, like the Galleria, you could see big-time savings right away and rapid payback to boot.

Most parking garage lighting is on 24/7. It's a necessary evil of operating a cavernous facility where vehicles are driving and people are walking. This makes the parking garage perhaps the most obvious setting for a retrofit, along with any other place that requires 24/7 illumination. And each day that passes with less efficient lighting in place is opportunity for real, tangible savings left on the table.

Lighting calculator: calculate energy savings on lighting projects

4. Keep prospective tenants in mind

A well-lit, safe parking garage shows prospective tenants an attention to detail on behalf of the facility operators. It can also act as a key differentiator for your building when it's stacked against others in the market.

As the Galleria's chief engineer, Cliff McBryde, said, his tenants felt safer and less vulnerable when he boosted light levels in the garage. The point: tenants – especially prospective ones looking for a new home office – pay attention to parking garage quality.

5. Make sure your lighting is installed for maximized light output

All too often, we see garages that have their light fixtures installed flush to the ceiling, between beams. That was the case with the Galleria's previous fluorescent lighting system.

This reduces beam spread and light output by as much as 40 percent. Like we did at the Galleria, if you drop light fixtures to be level with the bottoms of the beams on the ceiling of your garage, you can not only provide better light to the garage, but probably use fewer fixtures to accomplish as much. This simple change at the Galleria resulted in a reduction of 500 fixtures. Consider the energy savings that goes along with the newer fixtures, coupled with the smaller number of fixtures, and it's no wonder that the garage saw 14-month payback on its retrofit. 

Are you responsible for keeping a parking garage well-lit? Let our expert team help you accomplish your lighting, energy, and maintenance goals or use our energy savings calculator to get an idea of how much your company could save with a retrofit.