Energy Manager

Sky-high energy savings at Boeing’s Building 801 in Long Beach

November 17, 2011 - Building 801 at the Boeing facility in Long Beach, Calif., is where the company is busy designing military aircraft such as the C17 “Globemaster III” transport plane for the U.S. Air Force. It houses a variety of technologies, some of which have nothing to do with aviation, such as a new lighting system designed by Boeing facility engineer Jeff Haberman.

Haberman wanted to retrofit Building 801 with automated lighting controls that would reduce the facility’s overall energy needs. Specifically, he wanted three things:

November 17, 2011  By  Anthony Capkun

• To add photocells for daylight harvesting in all the offices and areas around the perimeter of the building where windows were providing natural light.
• To install occupancy sensors in all corridors, private offices, break and conference rooms.
• To set up an automated scheduler to reduce light levels at specific times of day.

To design the new system, Haberman identified three different technologies that could provide him with the capabilities he sought:

• 0–10V dimming
• DALI dimming
• DCL technology

The first two solutions would force Boeing to install new control wiring throughout the building; they would also require a separate control system designed specifically for lighting. DCL, on the other hand, requires no additional control wiring. Instead, it communicates over existing power circuits. Plus, DCL was fully compatible with the facility’s existing building management system (BMS).


As a result, the estimated cost of a DCL retrofit was 40% lower than either of the other two options. What’s more, the payback period for a DCL retrofit was less than 2.5 years, compared to about seven years for either of the other systems (including utility incentives).

Boeing selected the DCL solution. According to Haberman, DCL required 90% less wiring than other systems, 60% less hardware and 70% less programming. And he calls the installation “a piece of cake”.

The entire installation took place in November and December 2010. All told, 2050 fixtures were replaced. Each new fixture contains either two or three 32W T8 lamps attached to DemandFlex ballasts from Universal Lighting Technologies. Each DemandFlex ballast was ‘tuned’ during installation to the optimal light level (ballast factor) for its specific environment, helping to eliminate the problem of over-lighting. (These ballasts are specifically designed for DCL technology to communicate with the BMS at the circuit level.)

Every night, the BMS signals the ballasts to cut power by 50% at 6 pm while the cleaning crew is in the building. At 7 pm, the lights turn Off. However, anyone still working in the building has the ability to override these commands and temporarily keep the lights On. This can be done from any desktop computer or from a password-protected touchscreen display near the elevators on each floor. In addition, occupancy sensors reduce power levels to 34% in each office or common area when they detect that these spaces are unoccupied. And photocells automatically reduce unnecessary artificial light in areas near windows whenever they detect sunlight.

Haberman reports that employee reaction has been “very positive” and “We’ve seen a nearly 60% reduction in energy use for lighting”.

In real-world numbers, the lighting system in Building 801 previously required 950,000 kWh per year. That number is now around 400,000 kWh per year—a 15% reduction in the building’s overall energy needs.

Boeing also participates in a demand-response (DR) program with its local utility. This allows the utility to automatically reduce power to Building 801’s lighting system by 30% whenever the local power grid is near capacity. Not only does Boeing reduce its energy by 15.8 cents for every 1 kWh it saves through this program, but the utility provides Boeing with a $3 incentive for every 1 kWh saved.

— With files from Universal Lighting Technologies

Print this page


Stories continue below