CBEA High-Efficiency Parking Structure Lighting Specification

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Parking structures or garages are typically lighted by older high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting technology without any energy-saving controls. The latest high-efficiency alternatives with energy-saving controls—including light-emitting diode (LED), induction, and fluorescent technology options—can save building owners over 40% on their parking lot lighting bills while delivering additional benefits, like better-lighted spaces.

CBEA developed a performance specification that can deliver energy savings of about 40% compared to a typical code, and even more with controls. Nationwide, if all parking structures switched today to high-efficiency lighting that met the requirements of the specification, businesses could save an estimated 36 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually.

Typically, technology specifications focus on a product rather than an application. To maximize the benefits of converting traditional HID technology to high-efficiency alternative technologies, including fluorescent, induction and LED, a CBEA Project Team developed parking structure lighting performance specifications that should be applied to specific sites rather than specific products.

Commercial building organizations (e.g., large retailers, hospitals, educational organizations, municipalities, or developers) will work with luminaire manufacturers, designers, and/or engineers to provide lighting solutions for various locations. The specification provides information about both the luminaire and how the site should be lighted. Key details include:

  • Luminaires should carry a five-year warranty covering the luminaire, finish, and power supply
  • Testing requirements are identified
  • A lighting power density (0.18 W/ft2) that is 10% less than ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010 limit and the site is eligible for the maximum Energy Policy Act of 2005 tax incentive
  • Uniformity metrics with the standard maximum-to-minimum ratio.

The following table shows specification comparison of lighting technologies in the specification.

Product Feature Fluorescent Induction LED
Overall Lighting System Efficiency Most efficient of the sources listed in the specification. Due to the optical nature of luminaires designed around this light source, more fixtures are probably needed than for other sources. The light source is efficacious and is used in efficient light fixtures. Very efficient because of LED directionality, meaning nearly 100% of light leaves the luminaire.
Life Expected life of 24,000 to 46,000 hours. Actual value depends on ballast plus lamp pairing and controls. Expected life of 100,000 hours. Generator may not last the entire period and have to be replaced. Expected long life of 50,000+ hours but actual end-of-life performance not completely understood.
Light Output Depreciation Extremely low depreciation rate. Approximately 5% after 12,000 hours and then 3% more during the course of the lamp's life. Roughly 20% at 20,000 hours and then a continual depreciation for the remainder of the lamp life. Low lumen depreciation rate. 30% over the 50,000 hours.
Maintenance More maintenance than compared to the other sources in the specification. However, maintenance is not as expensive in a parking structure compared to a parking lot. Very low maintenance expected due to long life and durability. Very low maintenance expected due to long life and durability.
Environmental Impact Contains a very limited amount of mercury (less than the amount allowed in fish). Some lead in glass. Contains a very limited amount of mercury (less than the amount allowed in fish). Some lead in glass. Contains no mercury. Possible lead in solder.
Use with Controls Fully dimmable and easy to use with occupancy sensors. Fully dimmable. Fully dimmable.

The following table shows the lighting requirements by parking structure area from the specification:

Area of Parking Structure Horizontal
Illuminance Requirement
Illuminance Requirement
Covered Parking Areas 2.0 (Min) 1.2 (Min) 7:1
Ramps 2.0 (Min) 1.0 (Min) 10:1
Vehicle Entry/Exit (Day) 60.00 (Min)
(Accounting for daylight)
30.0 (Min) 10:1
Vehicle Entry/Exit (Night) 1.0 (Min) 1.2 (Min) 10:1
Uncovered Parking Areas (Top Deck) 0.75 (Min) 0.4 (Min) 10:1