Chula Vista means “beautiful view” in Spanish and this southern California city of 250,000 lives up to its name. Nestled between the coastal mountain foothills and shimmering San Diego Bay, Chula Vista is the second largest city in the San Diego metropolitan area, situated seven miles south of downtown San Diego and six miles north of the Mexican border.
A rapidly growing population coupled with increasing traffic led Chula Vista officials to retrofit the city’s aged 150- and 250-watt high pressure sodium cobrahead lighting system, used to illuminate major arteries, feeder roads and the city’s downtown. Chula Vista’s desire to position itself as a leader in sustainability and the city’s shrinking budget resulted in the selection of LED luminaires based on the technology’s reduced energy consumption and low maintenance.
Paul Ericson, electrical and lighting designer for Syska Hennessy Group, San Diego, developed the technical specifications for the lighting fixtures, creating a baseline to analyze luminaires submitted by four manufacturers responding during the bid process. According to Ericson, Autobahn LED Series Roadway Luminaires from American Electric Lighting were the only lighting fixtures to meet 100 percent of the specifications issued.
“The LED market is evolving rapidly and American Electric Lighting had the best product at the time of the evaluation,” Ericson confirmed.
Funded by Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECB), which are used by state and local governments to finance certain types of energy projects, Chula Vista installed 3,987 70-watt ATBO Series luminaires with 30 LEDs to replace the 150-watt HPS units and 140-watt ATB2 Series luminaires with 40 LEDs to replace the 250-watt fixtures.
Luminaires were mounted on existing steel, concrete or wooden poles set in the curb along the roadway or mounted on the median, as appropriate. The fixtures provide some back light to support the sidewalks.
The lighting design meets IESNA RP-8 standard for roadway lighting, with illumination levels an average .84 footcandles with the ATBO Series luminaires and 1.10 footcandles with the ATB2 fixtures. The color rendering index (CRI) is 70. Autobahn luminaires have zero uplight, which was essential considering the proximity of several observatories, including the world-class Palomar Observatory in northern San Diego County.
Jim Filanc, direct business development for Southern Contracting, which handled the installation, reported positive reaction to the Autobahn LED luminaires.
“The quality of the light is apparent,” Filanc said. “Police and fire fighters especially favor the whiter light because it helps them with visual identification and makes their jobs easier.”
Autobahn luminaires are controlled by photocell and operate 4,150 hours per year, or approximately 11 hours per day, which is the standard operating average established for the region by San Diego Gas & Electric. The fixtures reduce energy consumption by more than 45 percent and have an expected payback of eight years.
Chula Vista is responsible for caring for the luminaires and has no plans to perform any maintenance for at least 20 years. The Autobahn luminaires were ordered adaptive control ready so the city can use a street lighting monitoring system in the future to maximize energy and maintenance savings. Chula Vista is presently evaluating monitoring systems.
“The Autobahn luminaires are aesthetically pleasing and they do the job,” Filanc said.
The City of San Diego Public Works Engineering Department welcomes questions regarding the roadway lighting project.
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