Canadian Consulting Engineer

Lighting Design

The electrical design for the Richmond City Hall enables the building to operate as a high tech and "green" building. The lighting in particular was designed to meet the sustainability and flexibility...

March 1, 2001   By Michael W. Graham, P.Eng., R.A. Duff & Associates, Vancouver

The electrical design for the Richmond City Hall enables the building to operate as a high tech and “green” building. The lighting in particular was designed to meet the sustainability and flexibility requirements in a project that also had a tight budget. In fact, lighting accounted for approximately 38% of the energy savings achieved overall (as modelled according to the Model National Energy Code for Buildings (MNECB)).

Daylight harvesting is one of the key features of the architectural design. Most of the lighting is controlled by a low-voltage, networked control system with schedule and photosensor controls to allow for energy management.

The office tower is mainly open office space with low-glare suspended linear indirect/direct fluorescent luminaires. These luminaires with 32 watt T8 fluorescent lamps and ballasts provide general ambient light levels of approximately 40 footcandles to suit the computer work environment. Additional task lights are part of each portable workstation. A target lighting load of 1.1 watts per square foot was established for the open office, and slightly higher loads for meeting rooms and other areas.

About two-thirds of a typical office floor has linear fluorescent luminaires with 1-10 volt DC dimming ballasts, along with daylight sensors at the ceiling. Most floors are broken into dimming zones to suit the massing of the building and take advantage of the sun moving from east to west through the day. The luminaire layout is made perpendicular to the north and south glazing to line up with the mullions at a three-metre spacing. This layout means the luminaires don’t have to be moved, if a space is partitioned.

As electrical engineers, we worked closely with the architects and landscape architects to develop the lighting concepts. Low-rise public areas in the city hall, such as the meeting house, galleria and cafeteria, are designed to have a warm appeal. They have low glare downlights, custom-designed lanterns, track and other display lights that enhance the architectural features. The circular council chamber has downlights with low-glare reflector trims, and T4 quartz halogen lamps with a high colour rendering index (CRI), all controlled by a dimming system. The system enhances the wood finishes and provides good quality lighting for the robotic television cameras.

Landscape lighting includes the variation of uplights at the base of trees to suit different tree types, integrated step lights, and fibreoptic lighting in the reflecting pools and on the artwork. In the underground parkade, ceiling-mounted luminaires have acrylic refractors and metal halide lamps that distribute light up and down and eliminate “cave” effects.

Energy-efficient and “green” lamps and ballasts are used throughout the complex. They include long-life, TCLP (toxic characteristic leaching procedure) T8 lamps with low mercury content, triple-tube compact fluorescent lamps, coated (mogul and medium base) and ceramic (T6) metal halide lamps with high CRI, and solid state electronic ballasts with a low harmonic rating.


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