Convincing a public school system to retrofit the lighting in a high school gymnasium that was constructed only two years ago is not an easy task. But the energy-saving advantages offered by a Universal Lighting Technology (ULT) control system won a “yes” from the Silver Lake Regional School District in Kingston, Mass.

It was J&R Industrial Wiring that approached the school district with an opportunity to provide a higher quality of lighting in its gymnasiums at a lower monthly cost by replacing its pulse-start metal-halide ballasts with Nashville-based ULT's DEMANDflex ballasts. The ballasts are designed to work with the company's DCL Control System to optimize flexibility and cost-efficiency.

Jim Killion with J&R Industrial Wiring did the math for the Silver Lake Regional High School gym and discovered the school district could save 32,400 kWh — or about $600 per month — by installing 36 fixtures with two 3-lamp T8 ballasts each. A neighboring school district had engaged in a similar retrofit project, and the Silver Lake District's athletic director visited the facility to see the results for himself. With his approval, the district agreed to move forward not just in one school but three facilities under its jurisdiction, including Silver Lake Regional Middle School and Dennett Elementary School.

“The coaches like it. There are no dark areas, which you might expect with HID lighting,” said Brian Nogueira, supervisor of buildings, grounds, and maintenance for the Silver Lake Regional School District. “We achieved dollar savings and a better quality of lighting. I'm very satisfied.”

The control systems in the Silver Lake school gymnasiums take advantage of daylight harvesting and automated scheduling to save energy. Photocells respond to changes in natural light from the gyms' skylights and semi-opaque windows. The lights also automatically dim during standard janitorial hours and automatically shut off overnight.

Based on the projected energy savings, the local utility company agreed to offset a substantial percentage of the installation costs for the school district's new lighting equipment.