When the “A” Train was extended through the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the early 20th century, it opened up whole new neighborhoods to the development of multi-family dwellings. The West Gate House, built in 1921, has seen nearly a century in the Hudson Heights neighborhood: the building survived the construction of the George Washington Bridge in the 1930s and the I-95 expressway construction in the 1960s, both of which wiped out entire city blocks. Having lived through so much history and its accompanying technologies, it is no surprise the building’s lighting was a hodge-podge of E-26 incandescent, T-12 fluorescent, and CFL bulbs with no uniformity in design, and allowing for tremendous energy inefficiencies.
As part of a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)-funded program, the West Gate House co-op board had originally decided to replace and upgrade the buildings’ steam heating system. At some point in that process, a recommendation was made to retrofit all the lighting in the common areas of the buildings. This was no small feat: the West Gate House is actually two six-floor buildings, comprising 125 apartments and running the length of a city block on West 181st Street. Hundreds of lighting fixtures throughout the common areas, with different purposes depending on their location, needed to be unified in their look and feel, and modernized to boot.
Robert Prouse, IALD and FIES lighting designer with Brandston Partnership, was brought on board for the job. Under his design, LaMar lighting was tapped to provide the LED fixtures. To modernize the buildings, the lobbies were entirely redesigned—floors to ceilings, walls and all--for the first time since the 1920s. Prouse and LaMar replaced the old incandescent bulbs with high efficiency “Torpedo” light sources.
“Bringing the building into the 21st-century but keeping the prewar feel of the public areas was very important to the board,” said Prouse. “The residents overwhelmingly prefer to retain the look of ‘old New York’ in the more public areas. LaMar’s LEDs made it easy to retrofit the existing style without sacrificing any illumination.”
In the common areas that see less daily use, such as stairwells and laundry rooms, LaMar installed occu-smart® LED fixtures. These bi-level, sensor-controlled lights deliver 100% illumination when a person is in the area or room, then dim down to save energy costs. State of the art LED drivers allow the lighting designer or installer to set multiple standby or low-light levels, with energy savings up to 88% of full output during unoccupied times.
Aside from the fixtures in the lobby, LaMar supplied 39 Dual-Level Luminaire (DLIRL) Occu-Smart motion sensor controlled fixtures for the stairwells. Common corridors were fitted with 50 MTRN “Monitor” ceiling-mount luminaires. The circular shape and appealing nickel accent fit the prewar time period of the rest of the building, and the integrated ultrasonic sensors maximized energy usage, dimming the fixtures to a fraction of their total illumination when the corridors are unoccupied.
In the final tally, 4,186 watts of fluorescent lighting was replaced by LEDs that consume 3,777 Watts at full power, and only 2,272 Watts at reduced power.
As part of the NYSERDA funding program, the West Gate House is currently undergoing an energy usage monitoring/observation period to quantify the extent of the energy savings gained by upgrading the steam and lighting.