Lighting: Case History

Montour schools implement energy management program

Faced with the rising costs of energy, Montour Schools in McKees Rock, Pa., turned to OnDemand Energy Solutions for help. With the installation of new lamps and ballasts, Montour will realize more than $1 million in savings for hardware, services and energy over a 10-year span.

With more than 3,000 students from five western Pittsburgh communities, Montour Schools houses five gymnasiums totaling 37,000 square feet, causing a strain on the school’s $650,000 annual energy budget. In order for the tax-dependent educational system to stay in the black, it needed to reduce its annual energy budget by nearly 16 percent.

The five gymnasiums had a combined total of 123 lamps and, while the three elementary schools had an average annual burn time of 3,293 hours, the buildings that serve grades 9 to 10 and 11 to 12 had an annual burn time of 4,700 hours. Four of these facilities had 400-watt old technology probe-start metal halide lamps—three gymnasiums using open high-bay luminaires with wire guard and one with an enclosed high-bay luminaire mounted above the finished ceiling. The fifth gym was equipped with mercury vapor lighting installed in two-by-two recessed luminaires.

The priority of the project was to reduce the watts of energy used by the schools, while maintaining the current level of light. The OnDemand team determined that the use of an occupancy sensor-based, bi-level lighting control system, to be installed in all five facilities, was the best solution. The three gyms using open highbay luminaries were retrofitted, and the two remaining facilities were installed with entirely new lighting systems. Every gym was installed with 320-watt pulse-start metal halide lamps, operating on 277-volt, energy-saving reactor ballasts. In general, pulse start lamps have up to 50 percent longer life than standard halide lamps, 60 percent faster warmup and restrike times and will ignite in temperatures as cold as –40°C.

The new lighting system reduces the light level by 50 percent during the times the gyms are not in use. During times when these areas are occupied, the facilities instantly achieve a high light level. During the first two years of the schools’ contract with OnDemand, the educational district reduced its energy usage by 15 percent and now has predictable, annual charges for natural gas and electricity.

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