In the past during Halloween season, if you ask me where to find the scariest place at TWH, my personal preference was possibly the Fell Pavilion underground parking garage.  It was large, with very few people and most importantly, very, very dark.  It was so dark that there were constant complaints from users, our own hospital staff.

There were a few factors causing the problem.  The T5 high output fluorescent tubes in the fixtures installed years ago have high efficiency, i.e. lumen output per watt.  However, they only last less than 3 years and they would derate (i.e. lose brightness) faster than newer LED fixtures.  The lenses were turning yellowish, the reflectors were getting dirty, and bugs could be attracted to and trapped inside the fixtures.  All those made the lighting fixtures much less effective.

Due to incorrect installation methods and plastic housing that wouldn’t last, some of the fixtures started to fall down. Our maintenance staff could only hold the fixtures in position using cable ties or even existing electrical wires. That’s great on MacGyver, not great in a hospital parking garage. All those elements created a scary cave.  The only things missing were some Jack-O-Lanterns, spider webs, skeletons, and ghosts for a great Halloween party.

With support from senior management and after testing quite a few lighting fixtures, we eventually chose a sealed LED lighting fixture for the parking garage.  It uses less than half of electricity for the old T5HO fluorescent fixtures but could generate higher lighting level. The lifespan of the fixture is five times longer with good warranty, which means we don’t need to worry too much about service and maintenance work.  The new LED fixtures are sealed with glass lenses, which will not turn yellow or another colour.

To make the space brighter, some additional LED fixtures were added at different locations. Even with these extra fixtures,  there is no need to add new circuits since the new fixtures use less than half the electricity.  For many low traffic areas, we also specified motion sensors.  The sensors with user-adjustable sensitivity will automatically dim down the lights when there are no occupants in the nearby area.  This will give us more savings and make the fixtures last even longer.  Some photos were taken before and after the retrofit at the same locations so you can see the difference – note many of the bright spots in the before photos were from some new sample fixtures we installed for testing purpose.

In the end of the day, we got 23% more lighting fixtures in the parking garage, much higher lighting levels, much less maintenance work, 49,000 kWh and $6,070 savings per year and a much safer parking garage for people to use.

Many thanks for facilities management, security, parking management and our staff members who allowed us to block parking spots to finish this project.  We apologize that there will be no Halloween party at TWH Fell underground parking garage this year.