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Parking Vet’s Perspective on – Old, New and Now … ‘Go

By Larry J. Cohen

The world of lighting has surely done a 180-degree

turn over the last 25 years. As I began my career as a newly hired parking coordinator in Philadelphia, one of the tasks at hand was to replace 30-plus- year-old (T12’s)


lighting in our main parking garage. Those fluorescents have been around forever; they are the lights that “keep on tick- ing,” even as their lighting illumes decrease. For those living in the cold-

er climates, you know that as winter hits and the temperature turns below the freezing mark, those old fluorescents lights would dim and flicker as in a scene from an old horror movie – not great for safety on a dark winter night. Those darn flicker- ing fluorescents … Then, in the 1990s, there

was a big push away from the fluorescents and toward the “bright, white, consistent light” that many (including myself) sought in metal-halide fixtures. Bright, white, light output? Absolutely. Everyone was happy, right? Yes, for awhile … Well, as the 1990s turned into the early 2000s, the “green and

This photograph is ©Cree 2012 LEDs have been around for many years, but not in the gener-

energy efficiency wave” kicked in due in big part to rising energy costs. The awareness of energy efficiency and “green” initiatives started to become the norm as energy costs used by those “bright, white” lights had proven to be too costly as energy aware- ness started to rise. So, as the newer standard

fluorescent (T8’s) for the garages were slow to change, it opened up the market for more energy efficient “LED” lighting around the same time as “LEED” initia- tives took a stronghold at univer- sities, municipalities and others across the country. (Light-Emitting Diode and Leadership in Ener- gy and Environmental Design – only the acronyms are similar.)


One vendor approached me and opened up his jacket pocket, right out of a Bogart movie, and said, “Hey, I’ve got something (inside my pocket) to show you….”

al illumination business. Entrance into the parking garage light- ing market is also fairly new. The main pitch? “Save Energy Costs! Cut Your Energy Bill in Half!” Well, everyone started to take notice. Now, LEDs are pitched as

“the most energy efficient light- ing,” which in some cases is true. But their capital costs have been prohibitive, and the variety of unit sizes, overall lighting output and shape of each lighting unit are still evolving and may be sev- eral years from optimum pricing and unit standards. But many vendors have jumped on the LED train. One

vendor approached me and, I kid you not, opened up his jacket pocket, right out of a Bogart movie, and said, “Hey, I’ve got some-

Parking Today

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