Commercial Applications

Case study: Lewiston Public Schools

An independent statewide report1 says Lutron lighting controls are delivering “considerable energy efficiency” as the school district in Lewiston, Maine aims to cut high energy costs and improve the learning environment with Quantum total light management and the EcoSystem lighting control solution.

A close look at the official city seal for Lewiston, Maine, incorporated as a town in 1795, reveals the Latin word Industria, a recognition of Lewiston’s industrial heritage.

Following an economic renaissance in the 1980s, Lewiston’s economy and cultural life became more diverse, helping to earn a 2007 All-America City Award designation by the National Civic League. One of the criteria for the award is that a city must document ways in which the lives of children and youth have been tangibly improved. Lewiston schools are significant contributors to meeting this standard. The town’s school district sets high academic standards for its students, recognizing that excellent schools are crucial to the community’s vitality, growth and cultural development.

Lewiston Public Schools, which serve more than 4,900 students in nine community schools, grades K-12, began with a vision, articulated in a plan for 2008-2011: “Lewiston Public Schools comprise a school system of excellence, where all learners succeed at high levels and where learning is standards-based, collaborative, rigorous, interactive, and responsive to the needs of diverse learners and our community.” ²

The Challenge
When the district recently experienced a building boom and a need to expand its schools, it wanted to incorporate the latest technologies into its buildings, noting, “technology is a tool that, when integrated, enhances learning, communication, and work.” A major part of this technology initiative included incorporating the most advanced lighting control solutions available to save energy, cut costs and improve the learning environment at four elementary schools:
  • Montello Elementary School
    Renovation for a total of 120,208 square feet (11,168 square meter)
  • Thomas J. McMahon Elementary School
    Renovation of 56,704 square feet (5,268 square meter)
  • Farwell Elementary School
    A new, high-performance school comprising 75,000 square feet (6,968 square meter)  (opened in August 2007)
  • Raymond A. Geiger Elementary School
    Another new, high-performance building comprising 93,940 square feet (8,727 square meter)

The Solution
The schools employ a combination of two signature lighting control solutions from Lutron: the revolutionary EcoSystem lighting control solution and Quantum total light management for whole buildings and campuses.

“We reviewed a number of different daylight harvesting technologies over a span of three years,” says Paul Caron, Director of Facilities and Projects for Lewiston Public Schools. “We chose Lutron.”


Caron notes that the standards for the Farwell and Geiger buildings were ambitious. Given that two of the schools were new construction, the district had the freedom to be creative in the design and the desire for “the best technology available.”

Caron says he likes the fact that Quantum’s automation is centralized, which makes life easier for him and his staff. He also says the Green Glance monitoring software brings energy-efficiency “awareness and ownership” to the students.

Some of the students gained even more awareness and ownership than others. A number of high school students, who are enrolled in the school district’s two-year Electricity Program at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center (LRTC), helped with the installation of the lighting control products providing a “real-world” opportunity.

The Results
Since the Montello Elementary School project began before the others, the district contacted Efficiency Maine to provide measurement and verification of energy savings at the building. Efficiency Maine, an independent organization promoting a statewide effort to achieve more efficient use of electricity, helps Maine residents and businesses reduce energy costs and improve the environment. The organization is funded by electricity consumers and administered by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

After a 20-day monitoring period, Lutron scored what can only be described as an A+ according to the report, “The installed classroom lighting control system will produce annual savings of 64,123 kWh, or 61.6% of the projected baseline energy consumption, easily exceeding the 50% savings originally projected by the vendor. At the reported current average cost for electric energy, this savings has a value of US$8,913 per year.”


The report goes on to state, “In the opinion of this evaluator, the higher than anticipated level of savings achieved by this project are directly attributable to the extraordinary level of commissioning and tuning provided for this project. The installation is an exceptional example of the level of savings that can be achieved with properly installed lighting controls.”1In conclusion, the Lutron system produced “considerable energy savings” and the project could be deemed “cost effective.”

Taylor Belanger, a teacher at Montello Elementary, was delegated the responsibility of testing the lighting controls for the school district, and notes the integration of day lighting with dimmable electric lighting has improved both the learning and teaching environment, “I like a work environment that is natural,” she says. “With EcoSystem, I like the color of the lights. They’re not as harsh as before. It’s a natural, clear light that is more conducive to learning and better student behavior.”

Belanger adds that she likes the fact that the EcoSystem controls allow for only a section of the classroom to be fully lighted (such as directly over her desk) while the rest of the room can be dimmed when appropriate. She also says having the lighting controls means that students never have to be troubled by glare on computer screens, “The students know how to use the lighting controls and, even at this young age, they have the capacity to understand we are saving energy.”

1“Montello Elementary School Classroom Lighting Control System Measurement and Verification of Energy Savings,” Data Collection, Analysis, and Reporting by Richard G. Doughty, PE, published by Efficiency Maine, April 11, 2008.

2 Technology Plan, Lewiston School Department 2008 - 2011, see

Simulation commission by Lutron and conducted by T. C. Chan Center for Building Simulation and Energy Studies, University of Pennsylvania, September 2008.

Photos © Dan Gair / Blind Dog Photo, Inc. 2009
EcoSystem EcoSystem is a commercial lighting control system that is comprised of digital electronic dimming ballasts, controls, and environmental sensors.

Products used in this project

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