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Commercial Applications

Case study: Reading Area Community College (RACC)

Committed to providing affordable access to education, RACC turned to Lutron for help reducing electricity bills in the face of increasing energy and facility maintenance costs. By installing the new Lutron stairwell retrofit fixture solution, the college was able to reduce lighting energy by up to 82% in eleven stairwells throughout its campus buildings.

The challenge:

Reading Area Community College is committed to providing affordable access, and to meeting the identified educational needs of the community. Like virtually all educational facilities, the ability to provide affordable access depends, in part, on keeping operating costs in line despite increasing energy and facility maintenance costs.

Mike Hodowanec, Purchasing Manager, recognized that saving energy saves money, and worked with Lutron to analyze and evaluate how light controls could contribute to reduced electricity bills.

A walk-through of campus buildings revealed that stairwell lighting stood out as an obvious place to gain efficiencies. Building code dictates that stairwells will be illuminated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but, keeping those lights on at full brightness all the time results in a significant amount of wasted energy.

Eleven stairwells in five buildings were chosen for the lighting retrofit, including some stairwells that are typically used for less than two hours per week. Altogether, these stairwells accounted for 53,000 KWh of power use, costing more than US$5,000 per year.


The solution:

Energi TriPak® stairwell standard fixtures with Radio Powr Savr™ occupancy/vacancy sensors.

Lutron stairwell standard fixtures enable lights to stay on at minimum levels, and automatically raise the light level as soon as the space becomes occupied.

The Lutron solution offers field adjustable high-end and low-end light levels. Working with the Lutron field service team, Mike determined that a high-end level of 60% for an occupied stairwell met the need for occupied light, and a 10% low-end was in compliance with minimum code requirements.

After presenting the energy analysis and gaining approval from the RACC Board

of Trustees, the college installed 110 STET retrofit kits and 60 occupancy/vacancy sensors in the stairwells.

The results:

Reaction to the light control has been overwhelmingly positive. Teachers, staff, and students appreciate the feeling of security – light levels increase as soon as they enter the stairwell. The Assistant Director of Custodial Services, William Hitchcock, was noticeably impressed when he walked up the stairs and the lighting one floor above and one floor below him remained at occupied levels as he completed his maintenance routine.

In the rarely used Yocum Library stairwells, lighting returns to an unoccupied level after one minute. In other building stairwells, the settings vary from 5-, 10- or 15-minutes depending upon use, ensuring both maximum energy savings and security for building occupants.

Initial analysis indicates lighting energy savings between 80% and 82% as a result of the new light control solution. These savings have motivated the college to institute an energy audit of all campus buildings to determine where else light control can be used to reduce electricity demand.

Stairwell Fluorescent Fixture and Radio Powr Savr occupancy/vacancy sensor Stairwell Fluorescent Fixture -
Incorporates an integral lighting control device and a Lutron digital dimming ballast that is programmed to occupied and unoccupied light levels specific to the project.
Learn more


Products used in this project Occupancy sensors

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