Stories & Features

Port Coquitlam school one of first in B.C. to go 100% LED

Image of a Citadel Middle School hallway and lockers
Port Coquitlam's Citadel Middle School has been switched over to energy-saving LEDs, and estimates put the annual savings at $27,000 a year.

Citadel Middle School expects to save $27,000 a year in energy & maintenance costs

They say a small group of dedicated individuals can make a big difference, and that saying rings true at School District No. 43 (Coquitlam). In just three short years, the district's energy management team has tackled dozens of energy projects and spearheaded not one but two innovative LED projects with great success.

The jewel in the crown? A 100% LED upgrade at Citadel Middle School in Port Coquitlam – one of the first all-LED and integrated control system schools in B.C.

"Citadel Middle School was constructed in 1995, and like a lot of schools from that period architectural details and nice-looking lighting took precedence over energy efficiency," explains Poroshat Assadian, the district's former energy manager. "One of my first tasks as energy manager was to complete a district-wide energy audit. It was very revealing. Right away, it was clear that Citadel Middle School was one of our school district's highest energy users, and that there was tremendous potential for improvement."

With guidance from BC Hydro and FortisBC, and leadership from Matt Foley, the previous district assistant director of maintenance and operations, Assadian created a project plan that would do three things:

  • Lower Citadel Middle School's annual electricity use
  • Lower the school's operating costs
  • Prioritize student and staff comfort.

Over the next few months, the district removed one-third of the fixtures at the school – a total of 545 fixtures – and upgraded all remaining fixtures, many of which had reached the end of their lifecycle, to LED. Retrofits were completed in hallways, classrooms, the gym and multi-purpose room, wood shop, and art and music rooms. The school's exit signs were also upgraded to LED, and lighting controls were introduced throughout.

Image of a Citadel Middle School classroom
In addition to the switch to LEDs at Citadel Middle School, a pilot project will test atunable LED lights. Teachers and students can adjust a lamp's colour temperature to suit their needs.

Lighting controls, when done right, can cut energy use

In offices and small rooms, a single wall-switch was used. In classrooms, Assadian had two dimmers installed, one for the front of the room by the screen or whiteboard, and the other for the back of the room. Each dimmer is independently controlled by the classroom teacher.

In the hallways and washrooms, occupancy sensors were installed to dim the lights when the zone was unoccupied. And when the school security system is armed after hours, all corridor and washroom lighting automatically turns off. The lights turn on again when the system is disarmed.

The lighting is brighter and more natural and it's much easier for teachers to control lighting levels in individual classrooms.

With the switch to LEDs, the district reduced electricity consumption at the middle school by 40% and its lighting electricity demand dropped 35% so the total annual electricity cost reduction is $22,000. The district expects to save $5,000 a year in maintenance costs.

And the benefits go beyond cost and conservation. "The response from students and teachers has been very positive," says Assadian. "The lighting is brighter and more natural and it's much easier for teachers to control lighting levels in individual classrooms."

With the LED project at Citadel Middle School a success, the district has turned its attention to another opportunity: a pilot project testing tunable LED lights.

"Teachers and students can adjust the lamp's colour temperature to suit their needs," explains Assadian. "For example, they can choose a brighter light for studying or light with a softer, yellow hue when they're doing group work that doesn't involve reading."

Cory Farquharson, BC Hydro's key account manager for School District No. 43 (Coquitlam) applauds the district's creativity and adoption of LED technology. "The idea that this type of equipment could help improve the learning environment and better childhood learning in B.C. is very exciting," he says.