BBA LED Site (Parking Lot) Lighting Specification

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Most parking lots are illuminated by older high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting technology without any energy-saving controls. New light-emitting diode (LED) technology with controls can cut parking lot lighting energy bills by 40% or more while delivering additional benefits, like long life and reduced maintenance costs, and improved lighting uniformity.

BBA members developed a performance specification to help building owners take advantage of these improved lighting technologies. Many are already taking advantage of the savings; Walmart, for instance, now requires LED lighting that conforms to the specification for all new stores, and is achieving energy savings of over 55% compared to typical new parking lots.

Nationwide, if all parking lots switched today to high-efficiency lighting that meets the requirements of the specification, we could save an estimated 40 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually.

To maximize the benefits of converting to LED technology from the traditional HID technology used in most parking lot lighting, BBA members developed a performance specification that should be applied to a specific site, rather than a specific product. Working with DOE and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a BBA Project Team developed performance specifications and evaluation procedures based on BBA member needs.

Commercial building organizations (e.g., large retailers or developers) can work with LED area luminaire manufacturers, designers, or engineers to provide lighting solutions that comply with the specification for specific site lighting locations. The specification provides information about both the luminaire and how the site should be lighted. Key details include:

  • Luminaires should be characterized by backlight, uplight, and glare (BUG) ratings per IES TM-15-11.
  • Luminaires should carry a five-year warranty covering the luminaire, finish, and power supply.
  • Testing requirements are identified.
  • Different amounts of light (illuminance) are needed for different parts of the parking lot.
  • Both power density and illuminance requirements are by lighting zone (LZ); different environments need more or less light (and thus use power differently).

The following table provides an overview of features of the specification, as compiled by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory:

Product Feature LED Benefits
Overall Lighting System Efficiency Very efficient because of LED directionality, meaning nearly 100% of light leaves the luminaire
Life Expected long life (50,000+ hours) but actual end-of-life performance not completely understood
Maintenance Very low maintenance expected due to long life and durability
Environmental (Mercury) Contains no mercury
Light Output Depreciation Low lumen depreciation rate
Lighting Uniformity Directionality and flexibility make uniformity ratios below 10:1 easily achievable
Dimmability Fully dimmable
Durability Solid-state technology is much less fragile and less susceptible to vandalism, breakage, or damage from high winds and vibration
Light Pollution Easy to reduce light pollution effects due to inherent directionality of source

The following table provides an overview of energy and lighting requirements:

Lighting Zone Power Density Minimum Illuminance (lm/ft2) (footcandle) requirements per LZ
Main Area Perimeter Front Aisle Vertical
LZ2 0.05 W/ft2 0.50 0.20 1.00 0.25
LZ3 0.06 W/ft2 0.75 0.40 1.50 0.40
LZ4 0.08 W/ft2 1.00 0.50 2.00 0.50