Parking Lot Lighting - SLG
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Parking Lot Lighting

Parking Lot Lighting

In the age of Energy Regulations

In the twentieth century, it was enough to have light, ANY light in a parking lot. Major retailers and many institutions began establishing minimum light levels in their parking lots, and some cities began requiring minimum or often average light levels. Of course we must understand that average light levels could give you a parking lot that is very bright in half of it, and dark in the other half. But I digress.

As the new millennium approached,very sophisticated lighting designs, using sophisticated software helped create parking lots where very good visibility safety and security was the outcome.

Then came the Energy Crisis, and various entities started prescribing the maximum amount of energy PER SQUARE FOOT that could be used. The lighting professionals received a bit of slack when LED sources arrived on the scene, but it can still be a pitched battle between two factions:

Those who want us to see and those who want us to use only a little energy. See what? In parking lots, mostly trip-hazards. Over 50% of the insurance claims due to some injury in a parking lot are due to tripping on something (a curb, a car-part, a wheel-stop, a piece of trash).

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) published a document in 2014 which recommended lighting levels and techniques for lighting surface parking lots and parking garages. It recommended the lighting levels needed for good visibility for a 61 year old driver or pedestrian. The lighting levels were based upon science: visibility levels based upon peer-reviewed research. And yet, the energy required to produce that much light was more than California Energy Commission wanted to allow. Much grumbling and angst ensued. Complaints that the new IES practice (RP20-14) would not allow the use of “Older technology” (MH, HPS) . . . not true.

And the two sides are still discussing this. Research that might support one side or the other is still in process. Meanwhile, CEC has made small allowances for certain low-visibility pavement types, but the issues aren’t likely to be solved soon.

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