City switches to LED during project, reducing wattage by 47%
Although Pittsfield is home to Moby Dick author Herman Melville, this Massachusetts city may be better known as the former site for General Electric’s power transformer operation, which once employed upwards of 13,000. GE’s employment numbers, however, began to dwindle—dipping to fewer than 700—when the manufacturing giant began to relocate its transformer and aerospace operations to other areas.
Plagued with the economic decline that afflicted many New England manufacturing centers in the latter years of the 20th century, Pittsfield redefined itself by reconstructing prime industrial property in the downtown. The city also energized its arts and entertainment offerings in a quest to establish itself as a regional cultural center.
Part of the revitalization included extensive streetscaping guided by a master plan and city-appointed steering committee. The city enhanced the appearance of the downtown area with trees and large planters, street art and signage. Other amenities include brick inlay along sidewalks and teardrop-shaped plantings dotted with decorative benches. The city installed electrical outlets in the various plantings to facilitate street fairs and other downtown events.
“We adopted a ‘build it and they will come’ rationale,” said Bruce Collingwood, Pittsfield Public Works & Utilities Commissioner. “We already had attractions such as the Berkshire Museum and Colonial Theatre but knew we needed to update the downtown if we were going to attract people and more businesses.”
The streetscape project included the installation of period lighting to replace the 250-watt high pressure sodium cobra head luminaires used in the past. The project was sent out for bid and Holophane supplied the lighting fixtures working with the bid-winning contractors through multiple phases.
“Safety is an issue at night and the steering committee put a tremendous amount of thought into the lighting,” Collingwood said. “We knew we wanted period fixtures because Pittsfield is a historical area and home to a number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Pittsfield selected Holophane Tear Drop Series luminaires over competitive fixtures based on their appearance, features and performance. The Tear Drop Series fixtures replicate units that illuminated American boulevards during the first half of the 20th century and were adaptable to the city’s boardwalk style.
The initial fixtures use 250-watt pulse start metal halide lamps and are mounted on Holophane’s period Columbia Series cast iron/steel poles. Poles are 22 feet high and include banner arms and waterproof receptacles.
While the city began the project with Holophane HID luminaires, once the Holophane Tear Drop LED fixtures became available, city officials changed their plans and began installing the LED units. The Tear Drop LED luminaires are likewise mounted on the 22-foot Columbia Series poles and perform the same as their metal halide counterparts while reaping a 47 percent reduction in wattage.
“We’re a very green community and were definitely concerned about energy conservation,” Collingwood said. “We conducted a test by installing several LED luminaires to see if residents would notice the difference between the metal halide fixtures and the LED units. When no one noticed the change, we continued installing the LED luminaires.”
The city installed a total of 57 single luminaires and 19 double fixtures, with the double units installed in the median and in a park located next to the road. Fixtures are spaced 100 feet, with most fixtures staggered and some located directly across the street from one another. Pole foundations were installed to accommodate the city’s existing underground infrastructure.
Illumination levels are an average 1.3 footcandles, and an average to minimum of 4:1. The Tear Drop fixtures, which are controlled by photocell, are designed to minimize sky glow. Pittsfield installed supplemental post top acorn luminaires from Antique Street Lamps™ in pedestrian areas not covered by the street lighting.
“The city received a very positive response to the lighting, with residents impatient to have the fixtures lit once they were installed,” Collingwood said. “We have definitely witnessed an increase in the number of people and businesses coming downtown, and more downtown investing. We expect the Pittsfield revitalization project to become a model for other parts of the country.”
While the city has no maintenance schedule for the lighting system, Collingwood said he expects the Tear Drop LED luminaires to be easy to service since the fixtures are designed for simple disassembly to access the main components. The luminaires are designed for maintenance free operation for 88,000 hours or 20 years.
At this point, the Pittsfield streetscape and revitalization project is half complete. Collingwood said he hopes to continue installing Holophane Tear Drop LED luminaires for future phases.
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