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Case Study: Upgrade light fittings

James Rodrigo, Marine Apartments, Port Melbourne

James Rodrigo

Replacing fluorescent tube lighting with LED lights and sensors in our car park is saving us over $10,000 in annual electricity and maintenance costs.

You can do this project!

Marine Apartments in Port Melbourne is an eight storey 43-apartment complex, set back from Port Philip Bay. The building is 16 years old and has two levels of car parking.

The building’s Owner’s Corporation has been actively seeking ways to reduce the building’s energy consumption for close to five years.

An upgrade of common area lighting was highlighted as one of the actions that offered the best return on investment, triggering the Owner’s Corporation to investigate a range of lighting technologies.

The lighting upgrade was split into two stages, with the back of house areas – the two level of car park – approved for stage 1. Front of house areas including foyers and internal lift lobbies were earmarked for stage 2.

The existing standard & emergency lighting in the two levels of car park was a mixture of single & twin 36W T8 fluorescent tube fixtures driven by electronic ballasts. The lights operated 24/7 and had no energy saving controls.

After evaluating a variety of technologies, the Committee selected the Chameleon LED light with sensor to replace the existing fluorescent tube lighting.

How did you fund the project?

We made an initial investment of $30,800 from the building’s sinking and maintenance fund, plus rebates from the Victorian Energy Saving Incentive ESI scheme. We also received a free sustainability assessment from the City of Port Phillip's Sustainable Owners Corporations and Apartment Blocks program.

What is the expected payback period?

The retrofit project return on investment is 2.5 years, calculated from electricity and maintenance savings and energy efficiency rebates.

How long did the project take?

Following a technology research and assessment phase of four years, the Chameleon installation took one week with documentation follow up for the VEET Certificates, audit and sale a further six months post installation.

What technology did you use?

The Chameleon multi mode light operates on a standby mode, consuming just 8 watts and delivering a lower level of light when there is no detected movement in the car park. Once a presence is detected, the light instantly switches to ‘on’ or full light output, consuming 32 watts, before returning back to standby once no further movement is detected via the light's microwave sensor.

We chose the Chameleon LED light as it offered the better return on investment through 85 per cent energy savings & reduced maintenance stemming from the product’s 50,000 hour lifetime. The standalone Chameleon also had a lower redundancy factor than other lighting solutions with separate control systems, reducing the risk of failure, which could result in a whole zone of lights failing.

What are the benefits?

Following the car park lighting retrofit the average annual consumption per dwelling dropped 40 per cent from 2487kWh to 1490 kWh. Energy costs for lighting in car park areas have dropped 85 per cent.

Daily consumption costs have decreased from $62 per day to $38.15 per day post lighting upgrade. This translates to $8709.56 savings in electricity costs in the first year, increasing to $10,538 in the third year when 10 per cent annual electricity tariff price rises are factored into the calculations.

Maintenance savings due to the LED light's extended product life of 50,000 hours and emergency lighting maintenance cost reductions due to the Chameleon light's external battery replacement design.

We expect a further annual $1530 in maintenance savings through globe replacement costs reductions and emergency lighting maintenance (each $800 per year).

The projected annual energy savings are 42,870 Kwh pa.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

Overcoming scepticism from some Executive Committee members with other priorities.

What’s next?

Stage 2 will be to upgrade the front of house common area lighting – internal foyers and lift lobbies.