Switching out the lights
The New York Public Library, a landmark historical building that fills two blocks along Fifth Avenue, uses a variety of systems for functional and ambiance lighting. Searching for ways to reduce energy costs, facility managers determined that changing the light bulbs could make a big difference, but the changes needed to be carefully considered to retain existing light patterns, distribution, quality and the “overall appearance” of the facility that attracts 15 million visitors annually.
Last fall, the library contracted with New York-based Quality Conservation Services to develop a lighting program that would highlight the facility’s interior architecture and reduce total energy use. The company assembled a team of manufacturers, suppliers and service personnel, which included the suppliers of the majority of the products for the project, Technical Consumer Products and AM Conservation Group.
Converting the building’s massive chandeliers to more energy-efficient lighting while maintaining lumen levels was one of the major challenges. Each chandelier, which used 90 60-watt incandescent clear globes burning 5,400 watts per chandelier, was refitted with 9-watt compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that matched the light value and color of the incandescent bulbs. Now, each chandelier burns only 810 watts, and the library maintenance electrician no longer spends entire days replacing failed incandescent bulbs. “Some of these fixtures are original, 100 years old, and the great reduction in the number of times that these historic and irreplaceable fixtures have to be handled is very important to maintaining their performance life, which added another dimension to the value of the project,” says Christopher Williams, senior property manager.
A variety of 150-, 200- and 300-watt incandescent bulbs in many domed chandeliers throughout the building were replaced with 32- and 42-watt spiral CFLs. The facility’s 250-watt metal halide lamps rated at 285 watts, including the ballast, were replaced with 85-watt CFLs. In some areas, high wattage incandescent bulbs were damaging some of the wiring and socket components. They were replaced with CFLs to preserve the components and reduce the heat by 70 to 80 percent.
The project was financed through a Consolidated Edison Load Reduction Program, which compensates customers that reduce electric load during peak operating hours, so the library did not incur the cost of materials and labor. Overall, the project sustained or improved 5,311 fixtures and reduced the facility’s energy demand by an estimated 1,350,000 kilowatt hours, which will save the library nearly $243,000 annually. Also, the changes will reduce nearly 1,485,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 10,118 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 3,869 pounds of nitrogen dioxide annually.
Project: Historic library lighting replacement
Jurisdiction: New York
Agency: Public Library
Vendor: New York-based Quality Conservation Services; Aurora, Ohio-based Technical Consumer Products (TCP), and Charleston, S.C.-based AM Conservation Group
Date completed: September 2007