Youth Basketball Never Looked So Good!

May 18, 2021 Hannah Higerd

Centenary United Methodist Church in Lexington, KY offers multiple youth sports through its IAM3RD program.  The church’s youth basketball program attracts more than 2,000 boy and girl participants to its league play and clinics each year.  An official partner of Jr. NBA, the church program helps kids sharpen their skills and enjoy all that a team sport offers. In addition, the church offers an adult social league and a preschool that utilize the space.

“Our aim with our basketball program, as with all our youth sports offerings, is to teach not only fundamental skills to young athletes,” said Jeremey Hobbs, Centenary’s Recreation Director, “but also that every athlete will be challenged on and off the court, and they'll have the opportunity to grow spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially.”

Another aim of the program is to deliver an enjoyable playing experience for young athletes, coaches, and cheering parents and guardians during practice, games, and social activities.  In this area, one aspect lacking was the decades-old lighting in the Main Gymnasium. Not only was the lighting highly energy inefficient, but it produced glare in spots and inconsistent illumination across the gym floor and along the walking track that circled the upper floor. 

The Centenary UMC staff reached out to Jason Newland, Specification Sales Manager with LHI Lighting Sales in Lexington, KY, who has served as a volunteer coach for the last eleven seasons and on a previous lighting project in their secondary gymnasium, The Foundry, which uses an nLight® controls system specified in 2014 by Newland for dimming and controls.  After several meetings and an analysis of the space, Newland came back with several options at various price points and features.  

“The gym was being lit by older 250W metal halide high bays,” said Newland.  “At the time they were installed, these luminaires represented the best type of lighting for a high-ceiling space such as a gymnasium. Since then, lighting technology has progressed tremendously with the emergence of LED lighting and the ability to provide dimming and lighting controls that can now be controlled wirelessly.  We were able to present a 'good, better and best’ option, each offering significant energy savings coupled with high-quality lighting and performance features.” 

The church staff selected the best of the three options: XIB LED High Bays from Lithonia Lighting® with embedded nLight® AIR wireless controls, both from Acuity Brands Lighting.  The 2’ x 2’-sized XIB high bays replaced one-to-one the existing 27 metal halide fixtures, which made installation simpler with less downtime.  The entire project … all 27 LED fixtures and the wireless controls and wall stations … took two electricians just one, eight-hour shift to complete. 

The XIB LED High Bays offer a sleek and low-profile design that features an innovative visually comfortable lens that provides uniform, smooth, and even illumination and superior glare control – perfect for a gymnasium application.  This was the key feature that drove the decision-making process.  The church was convinced that a “visually comfortable space” was what they wanted for its gym.

The church also decided to go with the Dedicated Uplight option on the XIBs, which delivers uplight to provide voluminous lighting and minimize contrast – both major benefits in high bay spaces such as gymnasiums. In addition, the XIB high bays are engineered with a rugged and unbending single piece cast aluminum sealed housing for long-lasting durability and eliminating entry points for dust and bugs. The embedded nLight® AIR wireless controls in the lighting fixtures contribute additional energy savings potential while adding multiple controls features that provide dimming and programmable lighting scenario capabilities when paired up with the nLight® rPODBA wall switch

“After reviewing the various options presented,” said Hobbs “we decided as a group to choose what we felt was the best long-term solution, even though it was a bit more expensive. We plan to be here 30 years from now and this option provided both excellent energy savings coupled with high-quality lighting and controls capabilities.  During our basketball seasons the Main Gymnasium gets heavy usage, up to 90 hours during the week, when factoring in daytime use by our church preschool program, and the after-school and Saturday usage for practice times, clinics, and games.  It was hands-down the way to go.”

The combination of the XIB LED High Bays with the embedded nLight® AIR lighting controls are expected to consume 60 percent less energy than the previous lighting fixtures with a payback of just under three years.  Additional savings are possible with the increased use of dimming and programmed on/off scenarios built around the gymnasium’s weekly schedule. Easy-to-operate nLight® rPODBA wall switches have been installed at both gym entrances that include on/off, dimming, and up to four lighting scenarios that can be programmed for different types of activities and events. 

“What also sold us was the quality of lighting it provided with the ability to control it for various settings,” said Chez Marks, Centenary’s Basketball Director. “For practices and other everyday uses we can keep the lights at around 50%, which provides plenty of illumination while keeping the energy usage lower. Then for games and other competitions, we can easily raise the lighting level up to 100% with a simple touch of a button on the wall switch to enhance the atmosphere and provide a level of excitement for the players.  And there are no glare issues or that humming sound that came with the previous lighting. The lighting contributes in its own way to making our program fun and special for these athletes.  I am convinced we have the second-best lit gym in Lexington, trailing only Rupp Arena.  This new lighting system is something that helps set our league apart and creates an environment that is extra special and makes for some great memories that will last as long as the lights.”


Products Included In This Solution



XIB LED High Bay



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