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Libraries are ﬁlled with books about people and communities turning defeat into victory. This is the story about a library itself that experienced the same kind of tragedy-into-triumph transition. It was ravaged by a ﬂood, then renovated using the most sophisticated lighting system now available. This allowed the library to meet its unique lighting needs and reduce operating costs.
In June 2006 when a major storm system battered the Northeast, it was especially harsh to the Greater Cleveland area, including the city of Brecksville, Ohio, where, according to The Plain Dealer, Fire Chief Ed Egut declared, “This is rain of biblical proportions.” Runoff from heavy rains on June 22 caused rapid rises in all of the streams and rivers of Cuyahoga County, including Chippewa Creek, which cuts through downtown Brecksville. The Chippewa’s rising water eroded 20 feet of the creek bank — ﬂooding homes and businesses, and forcing ﬁreﬁghters to carry some town residents to dry ground.
One of the casualties of the storm was the Brecksville Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library. The library’s 82-year-old track record of serving its community came to an abrupt halt when the branch was temporarily forced to close.
The damage to the building was estimated to be nearly $1 million. The branch’s lower-shelf books were destroyed, two feet of drywall throughout the L-shaped, 15,000-square-foot building had to be replaced, and the entire structure, including all of the remaining books that could be salvaged, had to undergo a specialized sanitation process.
The Lutron EcoSystem light control system served as the perfect solution. With its digitally addressable ballast serving as the centerpiece of the system, the EcoSystem ﬂuorescent light control solution can offer a combination of energy efﬁciency strategies and cutting edge technology, including dimming, daylight sensing, occupancy sensing, and personal control. EcoSystem is suitable for a wide number of applications, including ofﬁce, education, health care, retail, and other spaces, including libraries.
“Before the ﬂooding, people complained all the time about how dark it was inside the building,” said Cathy Schultis, the branch manager. “The difference now with the re-design is very noticeable. Our customers comment on it all the time.”
The Library directly hired a professional lighting designer for the job: Tec Inc. Engineering & Design, a full service MEP and Lighting Design ﬁrm. The company was founded in 1983 and has had professional lighting designers on staff for over a decade.
Ardra Zinkon, IESNA, Associate IALD, of Tec’s Columbus ofﬁce, said her ﬁrm quickly recommended EcoSystem after evaluating the situation: “When we ﬁrst walked in after the ﬂood, there was no power to the building at all. At the time, the entire space was illuminated by the skylights which made it completely obvious that daylight harvesting should be an integral design component. We knew the owner would see the return on investment with this direction.”
“One of the reasons Lutron’s EcoSystem was speciﬁed,” Zinkon said, “is because the lighting system allowed us to separate power from control because of its cutting-edge ballast. With the area being a mix of stacks, circulation, and seating, we needed to allow for differing light levels for the multiple tasks required without adding additional circuits to the space for separate control zones. Existing branch circuit wiring was used without the need for additional feeds.”
Because the additional wiring was unnecessary, Tec President Terry Kilbourne, who chairs the IESNA’s Library Lighting Committee, estimated the library system was able to save about $16,000 in wiring costs and labor associated with the installation. This includes the library’s ﬁrst night lighting system for additional security, made possible by the EcoSystem technology. The system was programmed to allow several luminaires to ignore the “All Off” control and, instead, to switch to a speciﬁed night light level.
In addition, Zinkon said the EcoSystem lighting was able to increase overall illumination “signiﬁcantly” while, at the same time, decreasing wattage. This type of energy efﬁciency falls in line with how EcoSystem generally performs for a wide variety of applications. EcoSystem typically reduces a building’s lighting energy use up to 60% or more. Lighting accounts for 44% of an ofﬁce building’s energy use, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For education buildings, the ﬁgure rises to 56%.
But Van Dyke says the new EcoSystem light control solution is more than able to meet the task of achieving key goals the library system established for the renovation:
“The overall goal,” said Van Dyke, “was to create a patron-friendly environment that would encourage people to spend more time in the library, including children who take part in the early childhood development programs there.” Van Dyke says the library system and his ﬁrm are both “very pleased” with EcoSystem lighting controls from Lutron. “We know we’re saving money and offering lighting that people are enjoying,” said Van Dyke. “You can see people now react to the large, open space the branch has always had,” said Branch Manager Schultis. “It’s obvious how the different lighting ﬁxtures are set to different light levels to accommodate our needs. The whole re-design turned out beautifully.” The lighting designers at Tec agree the project is a big success. “We have talked with the library staff and they are excited when they notice that the lights are dimming because they know they are saving energy,” Zinkon said. “We’re extremely thrilled with the end result.
“Because each ballast is individually addressable, the commissioning on EcoSystem was so much easier than other daylighting systems. The location of the photocell becomes less critical.”
Late June and early July of 2006 was a hazardous period for many libraries in river cities in the northeastern United States, according to the American Library Association. The same heavy rains that struck Brecksville also inﬂicted multimillion-dollar ﬂood damage to libraries in at least ﬁve other states and the District of Columbia — including The National Archives and Records Administration building in Washington, which had to close when ﬂoodwaters rose up to eight feet in the basement.
The Brecksville Branch operated on a limited basis for months, but was able to fully reopen in January 2007 — no small feat for a library that serves about 25,000 people and circulates about 45,000 items per month. The recent improvements to the branch include an additional study room, more public computers, and self- checkout stations.
This renovation project uncovered a new look for the branch, and for the architect, it brought a fresh view to lighting systems. “EcoSystem represents the future of lighting, and we expect to be using it a lot more,” Van Dyke said.