Dell Children's Medical Center installs Acuity LEDs, achieves LEED Platinum

Aug. 21, 2014
Lithonia SSL fixtures along with Acuity nLight controls proved more cost effective than a high-performance-fluorescent retrofit and helped the hospital to achieve the goal of LEED Platinum recognition.

Acuity Brands has announced a major LED lighting project at the Dell Children's Medical Center of Texas, a facility within the Seton Healthcare Family of medical centers in Austin, TX. The solid-state lighting (SSL) installation in a new patient tower included 2878 Acuity nLight control nodes that deliver a savings of 180,000 kW directly related to controls. Moreover, the project relied primarily on Acuity Lithonia VT Series LED fixtures and was able to achieve the desired Platinum status in the LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) program.

The project encompasses an 85,000-ft2 72-bed patient tower attached to the children's hospital. The facility sought to build a "green hospital" in the tower addition and continue the sustainability program begun in the children's hospital with the LEED Platinum goal. The facility identified LED lighting and controls as a key technology choice. "Because LED technology has progressed so much, we wanted to integrate it as much as we could into the new building," said Phillip Risner, senior project manager at Seton Healthcare Family.

LED-based lighting and controls have been increasingly the technology of choice both inside and outside of medical facilities that perhaps feel more motivation toward sustainability. We recently covered an outdoor Acuity project at some Wisconsin medical facilities. Moreover, LED lighting and controls indoors can both generate energy savings and improve the patient experience as described in an Osram prototype project.

The sustainability goals are easily explained in terms of the hospital application. "Healthcare buildings are so energy and water intensive, and under 24/7 operation, so becoming sustainable is a huge challenge," said Seton's Risner. "But we were up to it. Since health is holistically related to environmental issues as well as personal issues, it meant a great deal for us -- and to our patients -- to try to achieve LEED for Healthcare Platinum certification for sustainability purposes."

The hospital worked with Polkinghorn Group Architects/CCRD Partners engineers, distributor Prism Electric, and architectural lighting firm The Beck Group on the project. The partners set a goal of installing more than 90% LED fixtures in the new facility with the added goal of making optimum use of adaptive controls. The primary product selected was the VT Series of SSL luminaires. That product has been a popular choice in other healthcare facility projects.

"We actually chose a lighting control system based on the compatibility with the LED lighting fixtures we were looking at," said Brian Horras, project manager at Beck. "We had it narrowed down to three manufacturers but the final decision was made by the performance specifications and the capability of the Acuity Brands lighting compared to other similar systems. These specific LED luminaires and controls compared to the original specified high-performance fluorescent resulted in an initial cost reduction of $75,000."

Still, the controls implementation is on a very large scale with the technology embedded in the VT luminaires and in other sensors and switches to reach the aforementioned 2878 nodes. The team reports that sensors are located throughout 95% of the building and in all 72 new patient rooms.

In one prime example of the use of controls, the hallways and corridors are generally set to 40-50% of maximum light level for general usage. Moreover, the lights can be dimmed further at night or in low occupancy situations. But if nurses hit a "code-blue button" for an event such as cardiac arrest emergency, the lighting in the local corridor goes to a full-on setting.

The project also included selecting lighting for maximum patient comfort. For example, the team installed Acuity Winona LED Step Lights in patient bathrooms. The products deliver warm amber-colored light that is thought to not disrupt sleep cycles and the human circadian rhythm at night. Still, the lighting delivers the needed safety feature to keep patients from slipping or falling.