Airport Ventures into New Lighting Technology


Airport Ventures into New Lighting Technology

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, with more than a half million takeoffs and landings each year. In spite of dealing with the heavy stream of travelers, the airport consistently ranks among the world’s top airports for overall customer satisfaction.
Part of this customer satisfaction is the result of the continuous updates to the airport. New gates, parking structures and concourses have all been added in recent years, as well as expanding and renovating current areas to make air travel safe, efficient and enjoyable.
The most recent project, completed in April 2003, involved a comprehensive lighting retrofit in its parking garage, switching from standard metal halide lamps to more energy-efficient pulse-start metal halide lamps.
Ready to relamp
After four years of constant use, the 175-, 250- and 400-watt standard metal halide lamps in the airport parking garage needed relamping. Having had many lamp failures in the past, airport management was eager to learn about new lamp technology options.
Robert Melle, now of Karges Faulconbridge, Inc., Consulting Engineers of St. Paul, MN, and Jeff Heinemann of Minneapolis-based Infinity Group Ltd. were consulted to find the best lighting source to meet the airport’s needs. Due to tight budget constraints in the air travel industry, energy savings was a key consideration in determining the new lamps. However, airport management did not want to sacrifice light output to cut energy costs.
Melle explained the many benefits the airport would see by changing to new pulse-start metal halide technology. These benefits ranged from large yearly energy savings, reduced maintenance costs based upon the extended lamp life, increased light output and better color rendering for improved security and easier identification of the customers cars.
Based on Melle’s recommendation, Heinemann suggested Uni-Form(R) Pulse Start Metal Halide lamps. The key to this lamp is its exclusive formed body arc tube. The shaped arc tube gives improved lamp-to-lamp color consistency, higher lamp efficacy and faster warm-up than standard metal halide lamps.
Prior success
With the promise of improved light level and energy savings, while also having prior success with the same lamps in a newer airport garage, airport management was very enthused with Heinemann’s suggestion. The decision was made even easier when the local power company, Xcel Energy, offered the airport a substantial rebate for retrofitting with the new technology
Once the new lamp choice was complete, a new energy source needed to be considered, since the current ballast system was not compatible with the new pulse-start technology. Heinemann suggested the Opti-Wave(TM) Quint-Volt(TM) ballasts to optimize the lamp performance. These new technology ballasts offer improved lumen maintenance, improved lamp color uniformity due to better lamp-to-lamp power regulation, and improved system efficiency.
The six-month project, beginning in November 2002, involved the installation of more than 4,000 lamps and ballasts in the parking garage structure. Airport management is ecstatic about the result of the retrofit.
“We doubled our light levels,” said Bob Litke, Electrical/General Foreman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission. “And with the substantial energy savings, we should begin seeing a return on our investment in only one year.”
In addition to the planned goals of energy savings and increased light output, the airport is also benefiting in other ways. Improved light levels provide much clearer images for the airport security cameras throughout the parking garage.
“We’re all very pleased with the ease of installation,” shared Heinemann. “And everyone is more than satisfied with the light from the new lighting system.”
“I am very pleased with the results of this light fixture retrofit project. It is nice to recommend a solution to an owner who trusts their engineer’s judgments to go ahead with a project of this magnitude and have the results be exactly as I had predicted,” Melle said. “Everyone has benefited from this project; the owner with the realized cost savings; the energy company with the reduction of power consumption from the airport; and the customers who feel very safe parking in a well-lighted parking facility of this size.”
The lighting system used at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was manufactured by Venture Lighting.

Article contributed by the Parking PT team.
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