Event Report: IES Multi level car park lighting innovation forum

Released: 26 May, 2016
Event Report: IES Multi level car park lighting innovation forum

Moderator: Simm Steel, Senior Lighting Designer, Steensen Vaarming (SS)


  • Steve Cahill, CEO & Co-founder, enLighten Australia (SC)
  • Jean-Pierre de la Chaumette, Electrical Engineer, ARUP (JP)
  • Michael Kellis, Principal, Illumelec Projects Lighting Design (MK)
  • Alessandro Mattiolo, Director, A1 Sparky (AM)
  • Mano Jelamudi, IT & Projects Manager, Sydney Masonic Conference & Function Centre (MJ)
  • David Crossley, Technical Manager, Lighting Council of Australia (DC)

Discussion Notes

Click on topic heading to reveal and hide discussion notes

1.1 What is driving car park lighting activity?

MK – in NSW the Energy Savings Scheme, which offers a NSW government rebate in the form of Energy Savings Certificates. The ESCs are traded & sold based on the volume of energy reduction for lighting retrofits over 10 years. In order to qualify, the lighting upgrade needs to meet AS1680 requirements.

1.2 Is it changing, or will it get better?

MK – The NSW Scheme Administrator, IPART, is getting better with streamlining allowable activities. There have been product selection & light quality issues in the past (simple fluorescent to LED tube replacements and T8 to T5 adaptors have now been ruled out)

1.3 Is there any advice re new technologies & AS1680?

DC – I recently attended the Frankfurt Light & Build Exhibition. The main new areas of development are in smart controls & smart lighting. There is a greater move towards individual sensors inside luminaires, data capture ability within luminaires and networking of lighting systems.

With AS1680 you can use lighting controls. Section J6 of the Building Code of Australia is specifically about controls

DC – sensors must operate effectively within an area –the quality & placement of sensors is important. Specification J6 of the Building Code requires an occupancy sensor to activate when a person is less than 1m into a space.

SC –Car parks have largely been ignored as spaces that require detailed design. Specs we see are as basic as “Can you light the car park”. There are some challenges around controls. Car park lighting needs thought, planning & involvement of consultants. We’re not seeing a great deal of that in car parks currently.

1.4 Is it the client driving this activity?

SC – Traditionally carparks have not been seen as important spaces in the building. In the retail sector, the car park is the front door for visitors. The Australian standards need to look at & engage with the variety of car park spaces as the current Standards deal with all car parks in the same way.

1.5 Is there an urge to design car park lighting in a different way?

JP – We find that to encourage clients to put money into an area that don’t want to go to, it needs to come down to the energy efficiency side.

2.1 Are car park lighting sensors coming in for purely energy savings?

JP- Sensors help with safety of movement. Re visual amenity, sensors are not a big features.

AM – We find that safety is a major driver. If you have occupancy or motion sensors in large carparks, if helps with safety & is viewed positively by clients.

MJ – People are asking for luminaires with integrated sensors for the security benefits. They don’t like the lights to be off & prefer the lower standby light output. We have been asked by clients for this.

2.2 Who drives sexy car park façade & wayfaring lighting?

DC – AS1680 is the minimum lighting requirement for safety & security. There is a large scope for efficiency & decorative lighting innovation to improve the visual amenity of carparks.

DC- The lighting of a car park must make sense as a part of the whole system. Re technology, Li-Fi will be faster than Wi-Fi. Particularly for retail carparks there are opportunities for colour changing, vacant space identification, data collection for building use purposes will interest building owners and wayfinding applications will be developed.

2.3 Is there any reason or opportunity for different colour temp lighting in car parks?

DC - High colour rendering is a feature of LED lighting with most at CRI of >70. This is an improvement on the older technologies such as sodium lamps. For very high CRI fittings, you are paying a price premium.

MK –Ability for facial recognition & visual impairment of car park visitors such as colour blindness are factors that are not commonly thought of. Often when a car park lighting upgrade is done by an electrical wholesaler with no lighting design input these get overlooked. Anyone can buy & install an LED – it’s the suitability for the space that is the differential factor.

2.4 What does the panel see as the best dimming system for car parks?

MK – it comes back to the electrical infrastructure re what can be achieved. Most of the time sensors are inside the fittings. Now we can control lights over the power lines. It comes down to number crunching of cost v benefit.

SC –When you talk dimming, you need to have knowledge of car park usage.For car park driveways, traditional movement sensor technologies (PIR, microwave) come up against difficulty in detecting fast moving vehicles in time. At the moment, only radar doppler technology is capable of detecting fast moving vehicles, but it comes at a cost premium & is more complex to commission.

SC-We look at car park safety in our lighting design by generally not specifying lights with sensors over the driveways. We install sensor lights over the car parking bays, where there is less complexity in movement & greater energy efficiency outcomes can be achieved.

JP – It’s often hard to overcome the upfront capital cost of dimming systems.

DC – There are now financial institutions with flexible financing arrangements that look at a project’s energy savings, the value of energy efficiency rebates for NSW & Vic& the client’s understanding of the payback period.

SC – To help clients assess the cost / benefit – we talk of total cost of ownership (TCO) over 10 years, inclusive of energy & maintenance savings. Some clients are engaged by the savings opportunities, others say that they’re only holding the asset for a short term and are attracted to cheaper options.

2.5 Monitored v Non-Monitored Systems

MJ –As a building owner / operator, we like alerts that come through re light failures on monitored systems.

SC – We’re working on software to program intelligence within the lights. This enables a range of festures including self test to be designed into the lights. It requires more R&D and cost, however it sets the lighting manufacturers apart from the newer energy efficiency companies that simply import Chinese containers. The new opportunities are exciting with bluetooth wireless control, low cost wi-fi for self testing for emergency lighting, general control & app interface.

3.1 What does a car park lighting brief look like?

MK - It can be very short – sometimes as brief as “we want LED”

3.2 Audience Q What do you do with defending a lighting specification vs a builder asking for a 20% cost reduction?

AM - We have walked away from installation jobs if the lumen output is not there with the cross-spec option.

3.3 What is an acceptable compromise re value management & cutting lighting costs?

AM - we look at whether the lighting performance will meet the client’s request as the #1 factor. Is the client only interested in short term budgetary impacts or do they hold a longer term operational cost management view? Eg if the client is looking at a major upgrade in 5 years,we would recommend to go with the cheaper option. With lower cost options we still look whether the lighting has the right aesthetics.

MK – For cross specing – CRI and wattages come into play. Most manufacturers offer a budget range, so it’s worth going back to them for other options. There is no policing in the marketplace as to the quality & performance of cross speced products.

DC - The issue for the less established suppliers & manufacturers is the longevity of the company to support a warranty claim.

3.4 How do you asses the quality of the cross spec’ed product if at all?

MK – you look at the built structure of the light (not a sample – there have been issues with “golden samples”). You look at the ies files and conduct a self assessment.

3.5 Audience Q - If you have been asked to look for an alternative product do you go back to the original specifier to ask their opinion or do you go ahead?

AM – Yes, we go back to the original specifier /consultant. We figure that the original light was selected for a reason. Also we look at warranty choice.

4.1 Audience Q – Are CNAS accredited Chinese testing laboratory test reports accepted in Australia?

DC – Yes, there is a mutual recognition between Australia & China testing lab accreditation organisations CNAS & NATA.

SC – An observation from attending the recent Hong Kong Light Fair was that a large proportion ofthe Australian accents heard weren’t representing lighting companies but developer / builders who were looking to directly import product.

DC – Some electrical contractors are refusing to install non-conforming lighting products.

AM – Yes, that happened to us on a job recently. We walked away.

4.2 Who does the certification on imported lighting products?

DC – If you import, you are held responsible and liable for the product’s electrical safety under the Commonwealth Government’s ERAC system (Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council) as well as electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) regulatory requirements regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), energy efficiency conformance (regulated by the GEMS Regulator) and Consumer Law compliance (ACCC).

MK – The biggest problem is how do you know if the lighting is non-compliant- do you wait for an accident & have the insurance claim refused? Again there is no policing of non-compliant products.

DC – The state electrical safety regulators and the ACMA do conduct investigations into incidents.Regarding compliance with AS 1680, the issue is that the building certifier does not know much about lighting and is more concerned about structural integrity and waterproofing etc. There is a need for more education of building certifiers.

4.3 Audience comment – A positive observation from a recent trip to Hamburg airport car park’s rental car return area. The driver received directional lighting in the form of an arrow that showed him where to drop off his car.

Positives include reduced stress as drivers are often running late & are often first time visitors to the car park.

SS The status quo is for directional arrow signage which is often stuck on the wall with no lighting, making it hard to see. Drivers struggle to get out.

4.4 Audience observation & Q – Value of painting & identifying car park owner drivers

In carpark lighting technologies we have seen the 40W fluoro batten with wire cage every 2-3 parking bays, next came the 36W T8 fluoro tube. T5 fluoros weren’t an option as they didn’t perform in cold temperatures. In my experience putting a coat of paint on the car park ceiling had a dramatic change in the lighting outcome & then coloured poles to mark floor or level.

In shopping centres you need to identify the car park lighting drivers. If customers are driven by visual amenity, which plays a role in attracting customers who will spend money, there is a business driver. If there is a grey concrete slab & oil stained driveway, no change in lighting will make a difference.

The question to ask clients is how do you make money? The result will be better than saying I’ll save you 5 watts.

SC – The value proposition sales pitch should be how can make you more $, not just savings – eg attractive façade or intelligent lighting as a incentive to attract customers into a venue.

4.5 Audience Q – I see commuter carparks at Sydney rail stations that are lit 24/7 with no timers or dimming & are mostly empty at night. How can this be?

SC – It’s a matter of incentivising change. There’s more work to do in client education. The lighting industry & associated sales channels needs to present the opportunity. We frame the decision by calculating that to run a twin 36W fluorescent batten light for a year costs $168. For our Chamaeleon light, the annual operating cost is just $15. The savings opportunity is significant, so it is important to present it in the right way.

SC -NABERS star ratings scheme for energy performance has been a successful incentive for the commercial property sector with associated car parks to improve the energy efficiency.

4.6 Audience Q – Carpark entry threshold lighting – AS1680 requires 800lux during daylight hours for the first 15m of a carpark entry and 160 lux during non daylight. If there was a roller door, why is 800Lux still necessary as the eye has time to adjust during the roller door opening?

SC – We can all show examples of AS1680 requirements being out of date & roller doors is a good example. But there are still many hundreds of carparks without roller shutters that are not meeting compliance currently.

DC – The building code includes both the ability to comply via the “Deemed to Comply” route (i.e. comply with the AS1680 requirements) as well as a performance compliance path. That is, provide proof that your design complies with the performance requirements of the building code.

4.7 Audience Q- Are there any updates in form re retrofit solutions for single & twin fluorescent battens?

SC - The form of future lighting will be very different as the industry continues to undergo major change. The LED batten form was a very inefficient & simplistic form of design.

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