Case History Feature
Case History Feature on U.S. West Communications
for GE Total Lighting, written by Richard Stewart
U.S. WEST COMMUNICATIONS RETROFITS LIGHTING CONTROLS
FOR 25% SAVINGS, QUICK PAY BACK
U.S. West Communications has cut lighting costs in its 16-story
office building in downtown Salt Lake City by as much as 25%
since replacing an outdated lighting control system with a new one
from General Electric. And the pay back on the installation was
only 2.3 years. That's according to Gary Barney, manager of
corporate utilities, who was instrumental in revamping the system
after getting reports that the building was "lit up like a Christmas
tree" late one evening several years ago.
The 400,000-square-foot building, constructed in 1979, houses
customer service and administrative personnel of the regional
Bell operating company. U.S. West Communications provides
telecommunications services to more than 25 million customers
in 14 western and midwestern states.
In the retrofit, a Programmable Networked System from General
Electric Total Lighting Control (TLC) was specified. Lighting
Automation Panels, featuring low-voltage switching and pre-wired
RR9P plug-in type relays, were used to swap out the existing
built-up contactor panels. Programmable Intelligence Cards in the
TLC panels provide broad capabilities for lighting automation.
The panels are networked over a twisted-pair data line.
Programmable system switches in the panels can be configured
to control relays anywhere in the system.
Barney uses a personal computer and user-friendly software,
known as RSOFT, to program the system. The PC gives him
central access and the ability to program, monitor and control
any panel or the entire building. Since TLC uses distributed
control, a failure in the PC has no effect on the normal operation
of the system.
Programming Called 'A Snap'
Once the system was installed, Barney programmed the system
in a surprisingly short time. "It was a snap," he recalls. "It took
me a couple of hours to figure out the nuances. The software
does a lot for you. As you build the schedule, the software fills
in other screens," he explains, noting that the new system was
much easier to program than his former, hybrid system, which
involved writing code. "The GE system is far simpler; no code
writing involved," notes Barney.
Ease of scheduling is important, he feels. "You have to
aggressively maintain your schedule in order to get peak savings.
As occupancy hours change and the needs of the business
change, we have opportunities to tighten the schedules. In
some cases, because we have dual-level lighting and relays to
control it," he says, "it is easy to program 50% lighting in an
area. It saves energy and it is transparent to the occupants."
The building uses a single lighting automation panel on each
floor, and Barney allowed for added capacity for future
expansion. "We have spare relays and circuits that are ready
to go. It cost a little more up front to set up this flexibility,
but now we're seeing pay backs," he says, noting that several
additions have been made to the building since the GE TLC
system was installed in 1993. In the retrofit, Barney was
able to use the existing enclosure panels, rather than purchase
GE's modular tubs and enclosures.
Substantial Savings Realized
Because of the system's flexibility, Barney has been able to
reduce the lighting in certain service areas, providing added
savings that were not calculated in the original plan. "We
figure we are saving 20% to 25% just in lighting with the GE
system," he says. "We calculated a simple pay back of 2.32
years on the lighting controls."
Prior to deciding on the TLC system, Barney used a detailed
building model to evaluate several options for energy savings.
Energy management systems and storm windows -- with a
calculated 45-year pay back -- didn't meet the company's
criteria. Upgrading to more efficient lighting ballasts and
relamping offered a 12-year playback, he says. The GE
system was the only one that provided a quick playback
with such substantial savings.
Barney credits local GE TLC representative Pat Eisenhauer
for helping him specify the right system for the building. "He
came in one day and mentioned that he had seen the building
all lit up one night. The custom-built lighting system we had
was failing us. It was expensive to maintain and difficult to
get parts for," Barney says.
Eisenhauer discussed the GE Programmable Networked
System with him and the energy savings the company could
realize with an upgrade. "The building was due for an energy
usage audit, anyway, so my timing was right," he remembers.
Working closely with Barney, he evaluated the building's use
and lighting control requirements. He recommended the
TLC Level 3, fully programmable system, designed for
automated lighting in large office buildings, retail stores, and
other complexes with multiple lighting panels.
An electrical contractor was hired to install the system.
"There was nothing to the installation," recalls Barney. "They
just popped out the old components and installed the new
ones in the same panels." He found the GE products to be
priced competitively with other systems he looked at -- even
cheaper in the long run, he acknowledges. "When we
weighed the total installed cost with the cost of a custom-
built system, the GE system was much cheaper."
Provides Remote Override
With the TLC Level 3 system, lights can be controlled by
remote, low-voltage, direct-override switches. The low-
voltage wiring normally eliminates the need to run expensive
electrical conduit. An override exempts an area from the
programmed shutoff sweep, which is preceded by a flick
warning to alert any occupants five minutes before the lights
Touchtone (R) telephones can also be used as override
switches to control individual areas or zones in the TLC
system. Telephone control modules, which can be used with
any phone in the building, provide an economical alternative
to direct switches, especially in open office areas. U.S.
West Communications Security guards and cleaning staff use
the remote override functions after hours to switch on groups
Barney especially likes the flexibility the GE system offers.
"I've looked at a lot of lighting systems," he says, "and,
usually, the programming is so complex you have to hire
someone just to put in a schedule change. I haven't seen
anything as user-friendly as the GE system."
For more information on TLC commercial and industrial
lighting automation options, contact ...