Pilot Program LED Center Shines Brighter


Irvine Co. Retail Properties completed its first LED-lighting conversion in what the firm plans to be a portfolio-wide effort. At the 35-year-old University Center retail center, located in a densely populated area, adjacent to the University of California, Irvine campus in Irvine, Calif., Irvine Co. undertook a 100 percent replacement of its common area lighting with LED lamps, making it one of the first shopping centers in the country to be lit completely with a state-of-the-art lighting control system and energy-efficient technology.

The $750,000 retrofit included the replacement of 763 lamps and bulbs with LED fixtures, some designed specifically for Irvine Co., a California-based award-winning developer founded in 1864 and specializing in master-planned communities and high-quality investment projects as well as nature conservation. New lighting was installed in the parking lot, ground and landscape lighting, soffits, center signage, security lights, neon signs, and hallway and exit signage at the 180,000-sq.-ft. retail center and 180,000-sq.-ft. office building.

The project took eight months from design to completion. The conversion was made more complex by the age of the center, which was built in the 1970s, which required working with several engineers and installers to design a plan that would replace the old fixtures with new technology. Aesthetics also were complicated, particularly for the neon monument signage. Achieving the right color and brightness to highlight University Center’s look required a delicate balance of fixtures. Irvine Co. installed the Virticus control system that allows individual fixtures to be dimmed for energy savings or aesthetic reasons, such as shining directly into a resident’s window.

The result is a project that is brighter and more evenly lit, increasing shopper comfort, while reducing energy costs. The new lighting has already resulted in an average of 51 percent savings in lighting-related expenses, a sum that is passed on to the tenants in lower common area maintenance charges.

Irvine Co. itself is also benefiting from lower maintenance costs. Traditional lamps have a 10,000-hour lifespan. The new fixtures have a minimum lifespan of 60,000 hours. The result is both decreased maintenance costs and energy savings, which is a benefit to return on investment.

Though Irvine Co. has replaced failing fixtures with LED at other properties, this is the pilot project for what will be a portfolio-wide initiative to enhance center lighting and energy savings. Parking lots will be converted first, as they offer the fastest return on investment, but eventually all common areas will be switched to LED lighting. The plan is just one aspect of the firm’s commitment to green initiatives. Other sustainability programs utilized at Irvine properties include trash recycling and upgraded landscaping.

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