An innovative new LED lighting system has been installed at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute’s CEAL lab (Challenging Environment Assessment Lab). Researchers in this lab conduct world class experiments to advance knowledge in mobility, aging, accessibility, design safety, and much more. The lab itself is a unique space with high ceilings located in the basement of TRI’s University Centre. Feel free to read more about the exciting research conducted at CEAL and throughout TRI at this link.

Before taking a deeper dive into the project, here are some quick energy savings numbers:

  • Electricity Savings: 88,000 kWh
  • Cost Savings: $12,300
  • Payback: 1.8 years
  • Additional benefits: Reliability

The before and after photos below demonstrate how LED lights can improve performance while saving energy at the same time.

Before and after
Left hand picture shows original fluorescent lighting, right hand picture shows new LED lighting


The original fluorescent lighting at site was becoming a pain point for the facilities department primarily because the fixtures are mounted about 40 feet above the lab floor and are very difficult to access. A scissor lift is required to reach the ceiling to change light bulbs. To complicate matters further, the lab operates several large environmental chambers (seen in the photos) that can be in the way of the light that needs to be serviced. A large crane is required to move the environmental chambers meaning that the simple act of changing a light bulb could require a significant amount of planning and cost. With the original lamps near the end of their service life, failures were beginning to occur more rapidly and a longer term solution was desired.

IMG_0169 - Light Sensor
Light sensor placed at floor level to measure before and after performance

Because the CEAL Lab is such a sensitive and high-performance environment, great care was taken to ensure that light levels would be maintained at an optimal level with the redesigned LED lighting. In fact, the project was on hold for quite some time until the performance of LED fixtures reached a suitable level. Light level measurements were taken at various locations throughout the lab and many fixtures were considered as potential candidates. A 3D photometric model was built to simulate the light output of various fixtures and ensure the design would perform as intended.

Photo Plot Model
Photometric Model of CEAL Level B2 with new LED fixtures

New LED Fixtures

The new LED fixture selected has a total system wattage of 92 Watts compared to the previous fixture, which used 6 T5 fluorescent lamps totaling 320 Watts. That’s right – the new fixture produces more light using less than one third of the power! Another energy efficient feature is that each fixture has a built-in motion sensor, allowing the users to program a time delay and a dimming level to reduce power consumption when no occupants are present. This feature allows us to dim the light levels to 30% automatically when the space is not being used. We used a similar technology in the stairwells at the same site to great success. In order to reduce potential eye strain caused by bright point source light from the LEDs, optional frosted lenses were included and installed. The LED fixtures are rated for 100,000 hours life expectancy, meaning they should be operational for up to 20 years. They are backed up by a 5 year warranty in the event of performance deficiencies.

In the B3 level of the CEAL Lab, the original fluorescent fixtures were recessed into the ceiling, making them much more difficult to replace. For these fixtures, we opted to replace the existing tubes (54W each) with new plug-and-play LED replacement tubes (25W each), improving efficiency and light levels. Additionally, we replaced all of the ballasts to ensure compatibility and longevity of the installation. By replacing the ballasts with known LED-compatible ones, we can ensure facilities does not have any surprises that would require them to service these difficult-to-access fixtures.

Floor level accent lighting on B3 was also converted to LED. For these fixtures, similar to above, plug-and-play LED lamps (16.5W each) replaced existing fluorescents (40W each). Again, ballasts were replaced to ensure reliability.

Floor Level Biax
Ground level accent lighting in level B3

Overall, the project was successful because we: 1) waited to ensure the correct technology was available; 2) measured existing performance and designed/modeled the solution to ensure performance would be improved; 3) worked closely with lab staff to ensure their lighting needs were met and installation was scheduled appropriately; and 4) followed up post project to verify performance and commissioning.

I would like to thank the following people for assistance on the project: Susan Gorski from UHN Research, Sam Zemicael from City Electric Supply, Jonathan Gentle from Ontario Electric, Gord Wood and Danny Moore from UHN Facilities. Having a great team like this collaborate on a project is one of the joys of working on energy projects at UHN.