Advanced Lighting and Controls Project, Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building, UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara implemented a lighting retrofit consisting of advanced wireless controls and over 700 LED retrofit kits, representing the most comprehensive lighting installation on campus to date. The project reduced energy costs by over 60 percent compared to the previous usage, and a survey of building occupants reveals that the new lighting is providing them with improved lighting quality. The retrofit was completed at the Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building (SAASB), which houses numerous administrative offices including financial aid, accounting, human resources, and campus IT departments. The building consists primarily of open-plan offices with some enclosed perimeter offices.

In this comprehensive lighting retrofit, the project team implemented state-of-the-art LED retrofit kits and controls, managing the complexity of the project by limiting the number of fixture and sensor parts.

A key initiative of the project was the retrofit of 780 2x2 three-lamp T-8 troffer fixtures with 23W or 29W LED “Evokits” from Phillips. These retrofit kits include LED light bars, diffusers and ballasts that were installed into the existing fixture housings while still in the ceiling, reducing disruption in the workplace. (By reusing parts of the existing fixtures, the amount of material to be disposed of is also reduced). The project also included the installation of 111 3-watt LED exit signs, replacing the existing 23-watt products. Together these fixture replacements reduced the building’s total lighting peak demand by 16 kW.

California Conservation Corps installing retrofit kits

Team members from the California Conservation Corps installing retrofit kits in an office area.

A second initiative was the installation of an advanced wireless control system, a software-based solution from Enlighted that provides control to the level of individual fixtures, and also highly granular sensing of occupancy and daylight. In open office areas, 400 ceiling-mounted devices were installed for sensing motion and ambient illumination, connected via a wireless network. The control system is accessed by building operators through an Intranet network and viewable on desktop computers or mobile devices. In private offices wall switches by Lutron provide integrated occupancy sensing and zero to 10-volt dimming. The switches were set with a default illumination of 50 percent of full power, which may be overridden by occupants, and with manual-on/auto-off operation and a 15-minute timeout.

CCC trainees review light fixtures

CCC team members received training internships with SmartWatt during the project.

The project benefited from input from numerous campus and UC stakeholders. Jordan Sager, UCSB Energy Manager notes, “One unique thing about this project as opposed to more complex projects implemented at UCSB is that there was no design consultant involved. The design was completed by campus staff and bid directly to contractors.” The advanced control system was initially designed with support from UC Davis’ California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC). The CLTC provided technical support from design and scoping to installation and commissioning of the project. A significant amount of thought went into the scheduling, programming and tuning of the controls. Before the retrofit, control via wall switches resulted in lighting in large zones being left on for long periods while the majority of the spaces were unoccupied. With the new control system, LED fixtures in open areas operate with a maximum light level of 40 percent, and are dimmed to 10 percent when spaces are unoccupied, after a 15 minute delay. During the less occupied times of the day, the occupancy delay is reduced to 5 minutes, and the dimmed state decreases to fully off.

Exterior view of Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building UCSB

Exterior view of the Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building, UC Santa Barbara.

A unique aspect of the project was the contribution of ‘corpsmembers’ from the California Conservation Corps (CCC). The agency provides training for young people in fields related to conservation of state natural resources. This includes land management projects and also green-collar training in solar and energy retrofit projects. Elan Kapadia, with the project general contractor SmartWatt, explains that his company viewed the CCC “as a wealth of young and eager talent waiting to be trained.” A handful of trainees were offered internships with SmartWatt to receive training on the project, and two have since been hired as full-time employees. While beneficial to these trainees, the partnership also reduced labor costs.

The project demonstrates success in terms of both energy savings and lighting quality. A survey of building occupants shows that satisfaction with the building lighting was improved after the retrofit. Results show that 88 percent of survey takers say the post-retrofit light levels are just right, compared to only 36 percent before the retrofit; 75 percent say that the lighting is much or slightly better than before. In addition, occupants’ responses to open-ended survey questions provide insights that can help building operators fine tune the system, to better engage with occupants, and to inform future projects. For example, some people say that they appreciate the occupancy sensors working to save energy, while others say that lights go off when they are still in the room, causing some inconvenience.

The success of this advanced controls system has contributed to a decision by campus energy managers to implement additional smart lighting control systems in as many as 25 additional buildings. One area for potential focus is in corridors, which are often unoccupied but illuminated at full power, presenting significant energy savings potential. The campus staff has been working with help of the CLTC and other campus groups to document savings and to prioritize next steps.

Images 1-3 copyright California Conservation Corps; bottom image courtesy of UCSB.

Share this Case Study
Award Category
Green Features
  • Retrofit of 780 T8 fluorescent troffer fixtures using Phillips LED Evokits
  • Retrofit of 111 exit signs with LED products
  • Advanced wireless lighting controls in open plan offices
  • Wall switches with occupancy sensing in enclosed offices
  • Partnership with youth training organization California Conservation Corps
  • Survey of building occupants to evaluate post-retrofit light quality
Annual Energy and Cost Savings
Completion Date
Project Team