Lighting Maintenance: Under The Spotlight

Potawatomi Casino Hotel refreshed its parking garage lighting to enhance the visitor experience.

By Bob Tortorello
From the August 2023 Issue

First impressions are important, and having the right lighting in parking garages helps visitors form a positive opinion of a space before they even enter. Lighting is considered a very important feature of parking garages, especially since most fixtures are on 24/7. Additionally, because bright, uniform illumination helps with visibility and security.

Potawatomi Casino Hotel: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In 1991, the then-Potawatomi Bingo opened its doors for the first time. A capacity crowd welcomed this new entertainment venue to the community. That level of enthusiasm has continued for decades and the Casino now welcomes more than six million guests annually. Since its opening, the facility has undergone three major expansions, including two additional guest parking structures—for a total of three—and two employee surface lots.

parking garage lighting
Bright, uniform illumination in the parking lot helps provide visibility and security for hotel visitors. (Photo: Optec LED Lighting)


Lighting Upgrade

Recently, the facilities team knew it was time to upgrade the parking and other exterior luminaires because the lights had reached their end of life. Marc Metcalf, Senior Facilities Manager Potawatomi Casino Hotel, contacted the manufacturer of the existing luminaires and also talked with another manufacturer based in Milwaukee about replacing 2,675 fixtures.

After meeting with both manufacturers; reviewing and comparing the recommended luminaires, including performance, distribution, driver durability, color temperature and pricing; discussing timelines, which also involved current supply chain considerations, the facilities team selected the Milwaukee lighting manufacturer.

To accommodate the facility’s busy winter months, Potawatomi Casino Hotel wanted 30% of the luminaires installed within two months and the rest installed by early spring. Since the manufacturer recently moved their operations from California to Milwaukee, and is sourcing local components to shorten lead times, Potawatomi Casino Hotel’s tight schedule never was a concern. In fact, the previous manufacturer had a lead time of two—six months, but the manufacturers was only six weeks or less.

The parking structures have 2,500 Type 5-wide OLPG1 low-glare, edge-lit luminaires–manufactured entirely in the U.S–installed on the ceilings, stairwells, and loading dock area, which includes both surface mount and 900 pendants. The employee parking surface lots and the parking structures’ top decks have 175 OLA1 pole-mounted lights installed. Additionally, the loading docks and outdoor flood lights were upgraded. All of the luminaires include high-performance, seven-year LED drivers.

“When talking with the installation crew, they liked the easy installation of the fixtures,” says Jon Scott, Project Manager Milwaukee-based Terminal Andrae, Inc. “We were all very impressed by the amount of time saved with the unique shipping method, which also had the added benefit of reducing wasted materials.”

Sustainability Commitment

Potawatomi Casino Hotel embraces their tribal values with company-wide efforts to reduce their environmental footprint, including operating from 100-percent electrical green power, purchased through Renewable Energy Credits; recycling over 287 tons of cardboard, paper, glass and plastic; and implementing a variety of sustainable purchasing and cooking practices in the Food & Beverage Department.

To complement these efforts, the lighting manufacturer created a unique binning and packaging system to securely hold and transport the parking structure fixtures. The innovative 60” pallet bins included four padded drawers with six compartments each to contain the lights; what it didn’t include was any Styrofoam or corrugated boxing, and it eliminated numerous garbage pickups at the property. The company delivered the pallet bins; the electrical contractor installed the luminaires and then the manufacturer came back to pick up the empty bins and deliver more garage lights.

parking garage lighting
This is a view of Potawatomi’s inside garage. The parking structures have 2,500 Type 5-wide OLPG1 low-glare, edge-lit luminaires installed on the ceilings, stairwells, and loading dock area. (Photo: Optec LED Lighting)

parking garage lighting

“This novel storage and transportation system dramatically reduced the time needed to unpack lights and completely removed wasted Styrofoam and corrugated packaging on this project,” says Metcalf.

The lighting project also addresses Potawatomi Casino Hotel’s sustainability commitment by upgrading to the newest generation of LEDs and technology. The longer life of the OLPG1 drives savings all along the product lifecycle: savings on installation costs for systems that will run for years, savings on maintenance and replacement costs with light points that don’t fail or burn out, and significantly reducing the electricity demand during operations.

Security Benefits

The luminaires selected provide superior edge-lit glare control without compromising light levels, helping to ensure the safety and security of Potawatomi Casino Hotel patrons. Additionally, the improved color rendition (80 CRI) and uniformity provide better images on the security cameras.

“The new lighting ensures there aren’t any dark areas, which helps our employees and patrons feel safer, and drive and walk around with confidence,” says Travis Gervais, Senior Security Manager Potawatomi Casino Hotel.

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The unique up-light option was added to the 900 pendant-mounted fixtures, which eliminates unwanted cave effect common in parking garages.

Excellent optical performance is achieved via edge lighting and delivered through a UV-stabilized, specially designed lens. This low-glare luminaire is critically important in a parking structure and enhances drivers’ visual acuity. Additionally, these luminaires cast more horizontal light across a wider surface area at 180-degree angle, allowing drivers to see open spaces and on-floor directional signage easily. They also improve vertical illumination to help identify oncoming pedestrians, provide safe car entry, and see garage structures, like columns, more clearly.

“Across the board, everybody is happy with the enhanced first impression—we’re now greeting guests and employees with better, more uniform and brighter light, which is also helping the security team,” adds Metcalf.

Bob Tortorello is vice president at Optec LED Lighting, a manufacturer of high-efficiency, super-bright LED outdoor fixtures.

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