Becoming LED Certified

September 21, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Parking Services is experimenting with a new lighting system in a portion of a city-owned parking ramp downtown.

Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said light emitting diodes, or LEDs, have been installed in the lower level of the Pearl-Ionia ramp on the

Pearl Street
side of the garage. She said her department decided to try the LEDS as a cost-cutting and energy-saving measure because LED bulbs use less electricity and require less maintenance as they have a longer life than standard bulbs.

But Ritsema also said the LEDs don't disperse light over as wide an area as the old bulbs did. She added, though, the area directly underneath a light fixture is brighter with the LED bulb.

Mitch Shutter of Parking Services said the department spends about $400,000 a year on electricity bills and $3,000 every two years to replace the bulbs and maintain the fixtures. He said the department has been trying to cut those costs and become more energy efficient.

"We've been shutting down perimeter lights during the day and are saving on electricity costs," said Shutter.

Ritsema didn't say how long the LED trial run would last. But she did point out that a critical factor as to whether Parking Services will use the LEDs is if her customers feel as safe as they did with the old lighting system.

Parking Services got the LEDs from a distributor in Farmington Hills. A company in North Carolina produces the new diodes.

"These aren't in production yet. This is a test light," said Ritsema

Parking Commissioner Kathy Clements, also a property manager with Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce, said the LEDs have worked well in other situations.

"We've put a lot of the newer bulbs in our buildings," she said. "They work great and they're cheaper."     

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