Underground parking garage lighting retrofit transforms space to improve safety and aesthetics while reducing energy costs

Jan. 15, 2019

Located in the heart of the Cote-des-Neiges neighbourhood of Montreal is a large residential development known as “Le Sanctuaire”.   The condominium buildings surround a courtyard with two low-rise commercial structures.  One is “ L’Atrium du Sanctuaire” a 38,000 sq.ft. space that is managed by FCR Management Services LP and is home to medical and professional offices, a Jean Coutu pharmacy, and a branch of the Banque Nationale du Canada. The other building contains the chic Midtown Le Sporting Club du Sanctuaire. The two share an underground parking garage, managed by FCR Management Services LP.


Because of the nature of the tenants in both buildings, pedestrian and car traffic volume is extremely high at all times of the day and night. FCR Management Services LP was seeking a lighting solution to improve visibility and safety for both drivers and pedestrians passing through the garage. They turned to the experts at Concept Illumination to evaluate the site and recommend a course of action.


FCR Management Services LP had worked with the Concept Illumination team on other commercial lighting retrofits. Ginette Longpré, Senior Property Manager with FCR Management Services LP explained: “they are reliable, on budget and on time – there are no surprises!”


Upgrading the lighting was necessary for many reasons.  While the existing fluorescent lights were doing an adequate job of lighting up the laneways, they did not project sufficient light over the parking spaces, reducing visibility for people accessing their vehicles. The fixtures themselves were deteriorating and maintenance costs were high; the T12 tubes are an aging technology and replacement parts were expensive and very difficult to find.


The retrofit consisted of the installation of 105 architectural fixtures, selected to reflect the upscale nature of the building’s surroundings. Each 70W luminaire is 5000K to complement the natural light coming from various skylights. For the most part the fixtures were replaced one for one, but several were eliminated altogether because of the superior lighting coverage with the new lights. The team at Concept Illumination also dramatically improved visibility in building entrances from the garage, as well as a service corridor, with the installation of linear strips.


The garage ceiling posed a design challenge because of substantial duct work and piping. Some of the old fixtures were nestled in the midst of these obstructions so while the light was there, it was not distributed to where it should have been.


Concept Illumination’s solution was to lower these particular fixtures by approximately two feet, while keeping them within the required height clearance. “We attached the base of the fixture to the ceiling with a ball joint that has some give, so in the event that they are nudged by pedestrians or larger vehicles they will be protected,” explained Daniel Herz, Director of Sales for Concept Illumination.


Managing traffic was the single biggest challenge while completing the retrofit. The goal was to keep the garage open, allowing for regular operations and minimal disruption to pedestrians and cars accessing the space. Mr. Herz therefore coordinated the lighting installation so that only one lane would be shut down at a time.  Another planning consideration was the fact that the old fixtures were set in concrete, so removal and installation were particularly labour-intensive.


The retrofit was successfully completed in one week and the transformation is extraordinary. The overall effect is bright and clean, resulting in a very well-lit parking lot. Lighting is uniformly distributed across the laneways, parking spaces and walkways. The architectural fixtures are aesthetically pleasing, offering a comfortable illumination with no hot spots under individual lights.


What cannot be seen by visitors is the anticipated – and significant - energy savings. The 70W LED fixtures replaced 175W 4-tube T12 fluorescent lights, a 60% decrease in energy consumption. FCR Management Services LP can budget for substantial reductions in their operating costs in the months and years to come, and the company is pleased with the results.


 “The garage is so much brighter and the lighting is uniform. Garage users feel much more secure now,” said Mrs. Longpré. “The tenant’s comments have been positive.”