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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Energy-efficient lighting to swath Detroit-area parking facilities in green

An exterior lighting makeover under way at seven Blue Cross parking locations in Southeast Michigan is expected to save the same amount of energy that 1,000 homes use in a year.

Electricians are working to replace exterior lighting at parking facilities in Detroit, Southfield and South Lyon. The effort, part of the companywide Blues Go Green initiative, is expected to reduce energy consumption by up to 50 percent and deliver $43,800 in electricity savings each year.

“We’re going from a metal halide to an inductive fixture,” said Christian Meyer, engineering manager with Blue Cross’ Facilities and Support Services division. “Inductive is a breed between a fluorescent and a metal halide.”

The lighting being replaced is characterized by high wattage for light output, long relight times and high maintenance costs.

By contrast, the induction lighting boasts an instant relight time, lower maintenance costs and other benefits. “These fixtures maintain their luminescence or their light output over their lifetime a lot longer than the metal halides,” Meyer said.

Federal energy-efficiency tax credits and rebates available from DTE Energy will make up nearly half the project’s cost. When combined with the utility-bill savings, the Blues expect the project to pay for itself in a little more than two years.

“Since the (lighting) prices came down, and with the green initiatives that are coming from our utilities and the federal government, we couldn’t turn down this project,” Meyer said.

The Blues and DTE earlier this week announced a plan to construct a 200-kilowatt rooftop solar array on one of Blue Cross’ downtown Detroit parking structures. The array is expected to produce about one-fifth of the company’s Lafayette campus base power.

The Blues Go Green initiative targets ways the company can be more environmentally friendly and save money. Perhaps the best-known example is the “living roof” on our parking deck in downtown Detroit, which helps to control stormwater runoff and also extends the structure’s lifespan, among other benefits.

Work on the lighting replacement project is expected to wrap up in late July. 

Electricians assemble new inductive lighting fixtures ahead of final installation at downtown Detroit parking deck.

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