Let There Be (LED) Light!

Duke field is first NCAA Division I outdoor sports venue with LED lighting

Part of the Sustainable Duke Series
Tommy Lawrence Electrical Contractors Scott Lawrence, left, and Chuck Hayes handle new LED lights during last week’s installation at Williams Field. In all, six poles were outfitted with 16 new lights each which will provide brighter illumination on th
Tommy Lawrence Electrical Contractors Scott Lawrence, left, and Chuck Hayes handle new LED lights during last week’s installation at Williams Field. In all, six poles were outfitted with 16 new lights each which will provide brighter illumination on the field. Photo by April Dudash.

A new Duke Athletics project completed last week won’t just brighten up field hockey games, but also lighten the electrical load to do so.

Crews installed a new set of LED lights at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium on East Campus, where Duke will have the first NCAA Division I outdoor college sports venue to be lit with LED lighting. A set of 56 LED lamps will replace 96 1000-watt metal halide fixtures currently installed and yield a projected energy savings of more than 60 percent while significantly increasing on-field illumination.

The new lights create a better atmosphere for fans in attendance at field hockey games and offer clarity for television and online broadcasts, which include coverage on the Blue Devil Network and ESPN3 for regular season and ACC Field Hockey Championships, which will be hosted at Duke this November.

The project, which came together with team collaboration from staff in Facilities Management and Duke Athletics, will also allow LED lights will also be used for Duke community recreation and intermural sports on Williams Field.

“Our Friday evening matches always bring great excitement to East Campus, but now more than ever, the excitement and energy will be even greater,” said field hockey head coach Pam Bustin, who’s led her team to a record of 8-3 and a #11 national ranking in 2014. “The new lighting will afford our student-athletes and the community the ability to play later in the day or during inclement weather with the brightness of daylight.”

With more sustainably-friendly bulbs, Williams Field will cut its carbon footprint by more than half to save about 6.5 metric tons of carbon each year from electricity use. The savings is almost equivalent to the amount of electricity used in an average American home over the course of a year.

Instead of having to be cleaned, inspected or replaced on an annual basis, the LED bulbs also offer up to 100,000 hours of use, reducing maintenance costs. Casey Collins, energy engineer with Duke Facilities Management, said the current lights at Williams Field require two staff members and about 20 hours to service one bank of lights. With the LED lights, annual upkeep is greatly reduced, with the exception of ad hoc cleaning or inspection.

“We needed to increase light levels at the field and the alternative was to simply add more traditional fixtures, but that meant we’d also have to consider altering existing poles to handle the weight,” Collins said. “Adding more metal halide lamps would’ve done nothing but increase maintenance and operational costs.”

Installation of the new LED lights is expected to complete this week and a wireless control system will also be installed in the Williams Field press box. After the new lights are in place, crews will position the new bulbs to provide specific levels of illumination to every inch of Williams Field during nighttime testing.

“It’s exciting to have this first-of-its-kind application at Duke,” Collins said. “It isn’t just changing a light bulb. It’s a paradigm shift.”