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Boeing Slashes Energy Use by 75%

Inside Building 801 at the Boeing facility in Long Beach, California, there’s no shortage of big brains and high-tech marvels. That’s where the company is busy designing military aircraft such as the C17 “Globemaster III” transport plane for the U.S. Air Force.

The building houses a wide variety of impressive technologies, some of which have nothing to do with aviation. In fact, one of the latest additions is a brand new lighting system designed by Boeing facility engineer Jeff Haberman and implemented by California Retrofit Inc.

Haberman wanted to retrofit Building 801 with automated lighting controls that would significantly reduce the facility’s overall energy needs. Specifically, he wanted three things:

  • To add photocells for daylight harvesting in all the offices and areas around the perimeter of the building where windows were providing natural light
  • To install occupancy sensors in all corridors, private offices, break rooms, and conference rooms
  • To set up an automated scheduler to reduce light levels at specific times of day

C.R.I. proposed the DCL® technology from Universal Lighting Technologies for its ease of installation- DCL requires no additional control wiring since it communicates over the existing power circuits. Plus, DCL was fully compatible with the facility’s existing Building Management System (BMS).

According to Haberman, DCL required 90% less wiring than other systems, 60% less hardware, and 70% less programming than other technoligies. And he calls the installation “a piece of cake.”

The entire installation was completed in 6 weeks. All told, 2,050 fixtures were replaced. Each new fixture contains either two or three 32-watt T8 lamps attached to high-efficiency DEMANDflex™ ballasts. Each ballast was “tuned” during installation to the optimal light level (ballast factor) for its specific environment, helping to eliminate the common—and costly—problem of over-lighting.

Every night, the BMS signals the ballasts to cut power by 50% at 6 p.m. while the cleaning crew is in the building. At 7 p.m., the lights turn off. Of course, anyone still working in the building has the ability to override these commands and temporarily keep the lights on in his/her area. This can be done from any desktop computer or from a password-protected touchscreen display near the elevators on each floor. In addition, occupancy sensors reduce power levels to 34% in each office or common area when they detect that these spaces are unoccupied. And photocells automatically reduce unnecessary artificial light in areas near windows whenever they detect sunlight.

Haberman calls the control system “pretty darned simple” and reports that employee reaction has been “very positive.” And the results are outstanding: “We’ve seen a nearly 60% reduction in energy use for lighting,” said Haberman.

In real-world numbers, the lighting system in Building 801 previously required 950,000 kWh per year. The number now is approximately 400,000 kWh per year. That amounts to a 57% reduction in energy costs for lighting alone, or a 15% reduction in the building’s overall energy needs.

“It works great,” said Haberman. “No other system comes close.”

As if that’s not impressive enough, C.R.I. encouraged Boeing to participate in a Demand Response Program with its local utility. This allows the utility to automatically reduce power to Building 801’s lighting system by 30% whenever the local power grid is near capacity. Not only does Boeing reduce its energy by 15.8 cents for every 1 kWh it saves through this program, but the utility provides Boeing with a $3 incentive for every 1 kWh saved as well.

How easy is it to reduce energy consumption and monthly power bills with DCL? According to Haberman, “Basically, it’s bulletproof.”


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