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From Airports to Universities, GATEWAY Demonstrations Shine Bright

New lighting at Philadelphia International Airport and Princeton University promote sustainability and LED effectiveness

November 2015

Laboratories are great for learning and experimenting, but they aren’t the best setting for assessing real-life circumstances, which is crucial when evaluating LED lighting. GATEWAY demonstrations, supported by DOE’s Solid State Lighting Program enable opportunity to evaluate performance in situations representative of real-world lighting markets.

PNNL recently led two such GATEWAY demonstrations—one at an airport and one at a university—each addressing a different set of problems faced within the lighting industry. Together, the demonstrations are estimated to save more than 625,000 kWh.

Philadelphia International Airport

From Airports to Universities, GATEWAY Demonstrations Shine Bright
Aerial view of PHL Terminal A, where trial LED lighting was installed in front of Pole 16. Photo: Google Maps

Airport aprons—the area where planes park and are boarded—present a difficult setting for proper illumination. Lighting structures can only be placed on one side of perimeter zones near the gates, where more light is needed for performing tasks, such as baggage loading, near and on the aircraft. For this area, many airports place lighting atop a 65+ foot-tall pole, called high-mast lighting. From this height, more light-output is required than most standard LEDs can provide, driving investigation into medium- and high-output LEDs that ended up saving a more than 24.5 percent in costs.

In seeking out those solutions, Philadelphia International Airport partnered with DOE to launch a GATEWAY project for trial installations of LED lights. The trials, conducted in October 2014 and May 2015, included the replacement of existing high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights in an apron area for one of seven terminals.

Initial results showed areas within the system design that needed improvement. The second installation revealed estimated energy savings ranging from 24.5 percent to 51.5 percent, depending on the mix of medium- and high-output LED luminaries used. But were the light-output levels sufficient? Indeed. The demonstration found that in areas 60 to 135 feet from the terminal building, where baggage handlers and other crew members work, the illuminances light was 100 percent brighter than the HPS lights.

Both medium- and high-output LEDs were found as suitable options for the aprons, and offered benefits beyond those of HPS. For more information on these findings, read the full report on DOE’s website.

PNNL Research Team: Robert Davis and Andrea Wilkerson

Princeton University

Princeton University wanted to make their campus more sustainable. But for the fourth-oldest college in the United States, where do you start? Armed with information from PNNL about GATEWAY and the benefits of new lighting technology for reducing energy use and carbon emissions, Princeton went to work on four LED lighting projects across the campus. In the end, estimated energy savings totaled 195,443 kWh.

Each project successfully converted existing lighting into LED lighting, increasing energy-efficiency in a parking garage, pedestrian pathway, and two parking lots.


New LED luminaires along campus walkway.
  • Walkways: The University replaced high-pressure sodium (HPS) luminaires along a walkway next to a major campus road. This reduced energy use by more than 60 percent and increased walkway foot traffic because students felt safer.
  • Parking lot phase 1: Princeton swapped out 68 HPS luminaires with LED lighting in four campus lots. The LED setup had standard dusk-to-dawn controls to preserve energy during the daytime, and it also included an infrared motion detector to automatically dim lights at night. This reduced energy costs by 64 percent.
  • Parking garage: In one of the university’s parking garages, the lighting system operated metal halide (MH) luminaires at night and fluorescent luminaires during the day. Princeton exchanged the 252 MH and fluorescent luminaires with LED luminaires able to produce light around the clock. . The reduction in power during nighttime operation alone brought about a 66 percent energy savings compared to the MH lighting. The new LED daytime system integrated a motion detector and sensor, resulting in additional estimated savings of 40,000 kWh annually.
  • Parking lot phase 2: In parking lots with no existing lighting, 41 new LED lights were installed. The lighting saved at least 60 percent more energy than a conventional HPS system would have. As an added bonus, the LED luminaires were divided into zones using a wireless network, allowing individual motion detectors to be controlled as a group. If someone went to get into their vehicle at night the entire group of lights around them would turn on, rather than just the individual light next to their car, further increasing their feeling of safety.

By updating their lighting systems, Princeton extended their energy savings and increased campus safety and sustainability. For more information, read the full report on DOE’s website.

PNNL Research Team: Robert Davis and Tess Perrin


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