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Parking Savings Through LED Project for Iowa City

July 15, 2010 - 1:15pm


Iowa City's $1.2 million LED project is expected to save the city about $5,000 each month from changing out old, metal halide light fixtures for LED lights. The cost of the project was partially covered by a $419,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program and a $45,000 rebate from MidAmerican Energy, the local utility company.

Brightening the future

The LEDs being installed in Iowa City use less energy than normal light bulbs and last about four times as long, which adds up to significant energy savings for the city. The lighting will be installed in four of the city's parking garages by city staff.

Director of Transportation Services Chris O'Brien said his department saw the city's parking garages as one of its biggest energy users at 55,000 to 70,000 kWh per month at some facilities.

"By replacing the lights in all four facilities, we expect to see a significant drop in the amount of energy used," he said. "Our goal was to reduce our usage by a minimum of 40 percent."

The reason the city chose an LED lighting project because it was one of the few areas that a substantial energy savings was possible for the Transportation Services Department. All of the information available pointed toward an energy reduction of 30 to 50 percent, which, when applied to the parking facility lighting, equated to a substantial savings.  

The city owns a fifth parking facility, which was retrofitted as part of a warranty repair in December of 2009. That retrofit has provided city officials with compelling evidence about the benefits of LEDs — a 49-percent savings on energy costs, averaging about $1,100 per month for that one facility. Presuming similar savings for all of the facilities, O'Brien estimates the city can save 1.4 million kWh and $66,000 annually.

The city is in the process of making a vendor selection, and the project is expected to be complete by June 2011.