San Diego Community Colleges Switch to LED Lighting Across Four Campuses


San Diego Community Colleges Switch to LED Lighting Across Four Campuses

 The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) – a recipient of the APPA’s 2015 Sustainability Award recognizing and advancing sustainability excellence in educational facilities – uses an LED lighting upgrade with SmartCast technology from Cree Inc. to spotlight its California Clean Jobs Act initiatives.

With the passing and implementation of California’s Clean Energy Jobs Act (Prop. 39) a few years ago, Chris Manis, Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management for the SDCCD, saw a golden opportunity to finance facility upgrades across his campus system. 
A state program providing funding for improving energy efficiency, Prop. 39 makes available up to $550 million annually to eligible educational agencies to pay for energy projects with a strong return-on-investment (ROI). 
As the second largest community college district in the state, the SDCCD continues to grow rapidly, tripling its footprint in less than 10 years, while maintaining its commitment to sustainability. 
Manis had an extensive wish-list of energy-saving projects, so he and his team set to work submitting their energy expenditure plan applications.
It quickly became apparent that lighting projects were the preferred funding recipients. As Manis explained: “If I save 20% on my electric bill, then those dollars become available for other projects. We call lighting the low-hanging fruit, because it has one of the largest savings potentials, especially when upgrading older facilities that still have incandescent or older fluorescent fixtures.” 
Once funding was secured, the district worked with several partners to find a lighting solution that would have the largest ROI, while meeting socially responsible investment goals. 
“Inefficient lighting uses a lot of money per month on kWh and manpower,” said Mark Doubleday, Senior Planner, Energy Systems & Facilities Maintenance for the SDCCD. “While we’ve tripled our footprint, we haven’t tripled our manpower, so we have to be smarter. 
“With a maintenance backlog that’s 50% to 70% lighting replacements, seven campuses spread out over 35 miles, and only four electricians, that’s a challenge. We’re going after as much difficult lighting as we can to realize savings. 
 “That’s how I ended up looking at Cree as one of the better solutions long-term,” Doubleday said. “It was the product line that was going to give me the best quality of product over a spectrum. 
“As part of the upgrade to the administrative offices, the district installed Cree CR Series ‘troffers’ with SmartCast technology. [They deliver] exceptional lighting performance and essential lighting control without the complex design, installation and setup of traditional lighting control systems. Exterior lighting also received a refresh with the installation of Cree’s Edge area, security and high-output floodlights, creating well-lit spaces that enhance safety and security,” he said.
As Andrew Hoerner, Energy Solution Sales Manager for Rexel Energy Solutions, explained: “With the CR Series troffers, these high-efficiency fixtures were a great way to demonstrate the benefits of LED, not only with energy savings, but [also with] the added benefits and attributes of controls tied into Title 24 [compliance standards].” 
Hoerner continued: “Rexel’s energy service team identified SmartCast technology as the best fit for energy savings, ease of install, Title 24 compliance, rebate eligibility and end-user comfort. We were able to come up with the ultimate solution that the campus folks are very happy about.” (Previously, the SDCCD used on-bill financing with SDG&E, paying for projects through energy savings.) 
Now, the district could fund the project completely through Prop. 39, and as an added bonus, the LED lighting solution also qualified for incentives from SDG&E. Another key benefit of the Cree LED lighting solution was the 75,000 to 100,000 hours life expectancy, offering huge maintenance savings. 
As Manis said, “One of our main weighted categories was life of product. Now I don’t have to send an electrician out but once every 10 years,” allowing the facilities staff to divert the resources to other areas. 
In terms of safety and security, the SmartCast technology controls solution has been a boon, he added. “In large offices, we’ve grouped the fixtures and occupancy sensors to accommodate people that work after hours. If they’re working late in a remote corner, I grouped that office with the main office so that those main office lights stay on.” 
Manis continued: “One of the qualities we like is the ability to make adjustments. I like my lights on full blast. Next door, they want 80%. I’m still saving 20% on my energy use, while the person next door is saving even more, and they’re happy with their amount of light. The ability to have a hand-held programmer controller allowed us to make adjustments quickly and easily,” he said. 
As far as light quality, Doubleday explained: “With fluorescent, you are constantly getting pounded with flicker. Because the lights are so much more consistent and there’s no flicker, the lights look brighter, so we’ve had to make adjustments. We’re using daylight sensing, and we’re dimmed below factory measurements, so we’re getting additional estimated 25% to 30% savings at minimum, as well as extending fixture life.” 
Rexel’s Hoerner summed it up: “Cree does a great job of making it simple. You [get] the right solutions that hit the mark for energy efficiency – from exterior to interior. 
“With controls, Cree really hits the mark on all points – lumens per watt, years in business, warranty, rebate eligibility, applications and price. And Cree has some great people on their staff,” Hoerner said. “That’s why I like to lead with Cree 99% of the time.”
Erik Milz, is Cree Lighting, VP Product Marketing, Outdoor Lighting Product Marketing. He can be reached at
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Erik Milz
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