University of Washington retrofits Dempsey Center with high-bay LEDs

July 14, 2020
Cree Lighting HXB high-bay fixtures have reduced energy use 40% while increasing light levels at the Dempsey Indoor Center, an athletic facility at the University of Washington near Seattle.
Cree Lighting has released details of an LED retrofit project on the University of Washington campus in the Dempsey Indoor Center. The solid-state lighting (SSL) project saw the athletic department increase light levels and decrease energy usage in the facility used both for practice and actual competition. Moreover, the LED upgrade will eliminate twice-annual maintenance cycles and expenses.

“Whether you have teams hitting, catching, or fielding a ball when practicing or competing in an indoor track meet, we need to ensure we have the best lighting coverage for events and competitions,” said Megan Welsch, University of Washington director of operations and events. “We also wanted to be more energy-efficient while increasing the amount of light in the facility.”

We’ve reported most often about LED lighting of playing fields in the major sports leagues around the globe. For example, we ran an article last fall that covered European football (soccer) projects in Germany and France. In the big picture, however, SSL retrofits will save far more energy at college and even recreational levels as there are far more such facilities compared to professional stadiums and arenas.

We have covered other noteworthy projects in US college facilities. For example, earlier-generation Cree Lighting luminaires were used in a project at Bowling Green University. A project we covered at Princeton University utilized Hubbell high-bay LED fixtures.

In the University of Washington project, Cree Lighting supplied its HXB high-bay luminaires. That product won a 2017 LEDs Magazine Sapphire Award in the Industrial SSL Luminaire Design category. The product was designed for one-for-one replacement of high-intensity discharge (HID) fixtures.

The Dempsey retrofit project essentially used fewer than one-for-one fixtures. Contractor Northwest Edison replaced the existing high-bay fixtures on a one-for-one basis, but found it did not need to replace wall-mounted uplights that were needed previously to achieve specified light levels. The contractor installed 70,000-lm fixtures that deliver 150 lm/W in efficacy.

“My impression of the HXB Series is that it is well-built, very clean looking, and blends in well with the ceiling,” said Dan Cronk, a Northwest Edison electrician who installed the luminaires. “It was a very simple installation and overall the project went very well. I would recommend the HXB Series for another high-bay installation.”

The energy efficiency is especially important in such a project. The Dempsey Center is used from early morning through late night every day. It hosts practices for football, baseball, softball, and soccer teams and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 competition in track & field.

The University of Washington athletics department team visited other college and National Football League (NFL) facilities to sample LED lighting projects and made the decision to make the transition. Still, energy efficiency alone would not justify the project. The retrofit had to meet NCAA standards for broadcasting live track & field events. The Cree products meet that requirement, eliminating high-angle glare and providing uniform lighting.

The energy savings are also significant with a 40% reduction in kilowatt-hours used. In fact, that level of savings helped the university afford the project as it earned the university incentives from utility Seattle City Light. And the athletic department will not have to schedule the twice-annual maintenance periods over the expected eleven-year life of the luminaires.

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