In 2018, Vancouver’s Park Board and the City of Vancouver decided to give the Bloedel Conservatory atop Queen Elizabeth Park a more sustainable colour-changing LED lighting system. The goal was to attract more visitors, reduce the venue’s energy consumption, and lower maintenance costs through a remote, multi-locational lighting-control system.
Quantum Lighting teamed up with SLS Lighting, Mott Electric, and E.B. Horsman & Son to provide a new LED lighting system that would reduce the conservatory’s lighting energy consumption by 60% under the same hours of operation.
TThe Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park is one of Vancouver’s most iconic visitor attractions. Built in 1969, the geodesic-like dome attracts thousands of visitors from around the world each year, leaving a lasting impression of Vancouver’s beauty and splendour.
The conservatory is home to a resident population of more than 100 free-flying bird species, ranging from timbrado and roller canaries to yellow-crested Amazon parrots and Lady Amherst pheasants. The site also houses 500 species of plants from around the world including collections of fig trees, palms, exotic fruit and spice trees, cacti and tropical flowers/ornamentals.
The birds, plants, and trees are sensitive to light. Therefore, an effective, non-disruptive lighting system is crucial to help maintain a healthy habitat for all species within the tropical setting – and to ensure the site’s ongoing appeal to a global audience.
The local Park Board, which operates and manages the City of Vancouver-owned conservatory, wanted to give the dome a modern appearance by installing new, colour-changing LED light fixtures and lamps. The City and Park Board accepted Quantum’s proposal on a less costly interior-lighting upgrade to the existing metal halide flood lighting.
Vancouver Park Board, City of Vancouver, and the Vancouver Botanical Garden Association wanted the dome’s new, modern appearance to use the latest, colour-changing LED light fixtures that could draw renewed attention to the public venue and increase its visitor numbers. A critical requirement was to have a system that would enable the City’s staff to easily create various-coloured light shows along the dome’s interior during special events or days.
Keeping the facility’s sensitive habitat in mind, the City and the Park Board also required a lighting design that would provide slow, controlled colour changes to avoid distressing the birds. This eliminated any use of light shows with dynamic colour changes.
The City also wanted to provide better lighting within the facility and to reduce the dome’s energy use for lighting by 60% while using the same hours of operation as the original lighting.
The City needed to install new colour-changing LED-light luminaires along the dome’s interior and have the lighting system compatible with LED lighting systems installed in other City facilities.
The desired solution was to graze the tubular frames of the dome’s windows, use the reflected light to illuminate the conservatory space, and direct the light across the windows. The LED-lighting package was designed and proposed by Quantum Lighting in conjunction with SLS Lighting, supplied by E.B. Horsman & Son, and installed by Mott Electric during a two-month period.
Quantum Lighting consulted the manufacturer agent, SLS Lighting, and proposed the ColorBlast system from Color Kinetics – a versatile LED-lighting control system, to achieve the City’s and park’s board objectives. “The uniqueness of the Color Kinetics system is the wiring capability of the power-core technology and Color Kinetics Data Enabler Pro controls; it allowed Mott’s electricians to use the existing wiring from the HID floodlights to lay out the new colour-changing fixtures around the base of the dome. This reduced the project installation costs significantly,” said Gerry Hogan, Quantum Lighting’s Senior Lighting Designer and Project Manager.
“Also, the City of Vancouver already had a Color Kinetics installation at their City Hall so introducing the use of the Ethernet controls for the Bloedel Conservatory provided an opportunity for the City staff to manage the colour-changing shows remotely for both sites.” – Horgan added.
Richard Tse, an Energy Analyst at the City of Vancouver, said the City of Vancouver chose to implement the Color Kinetics LED package in the dome because it would satisfy the City’s current and future needs, such as remote, internet-based access to the lighting-control system; a modern interface and user experience; and the opportunity to create, save, and manage a wide variety of shows and lighting schedules. The Color Kinetics LED package also met the required capability of managing multiple facilities from one interface, as well as permitted various user-access levels.
“Forty-two of the previous 150-watt floodlights were removed from the interior dome and 64 new colour LED fixtures installed,” said Richard Tse, an Energy Analyst at the City of Vancouver.
Overcoming the conservatory’s unique environment and habitat requirements?
Although the LED-lighting system was installed indoors, the conservatory’s humidity and other conditions simulate an outdoor environment. The ColorBlast’s outdoor rating was crucial to ensure the project’s success and the long-term effectiveness of the conservatory’s lighting system.
“The ColorBlast model was chosen for its lower energy requirements, outdoor rating for the harsh dome environment, and ability to produce superior saturated colors,” said Hogan.
He added: “The ColorBlast luminaire is reasonably priced compared to other LED colour-changing products in the industry.”
Mott Electric, the company in charge of the installation, turned to their long-time electrical supplier, E.B. Horsman & Son. “E.B. Horsman & Son was chosen as the supplier for this project because “their price met the project’s budget and the company is very responsive, efficient, and reliable” said Jenna Brewer, Mott’s Estimator/Project Manager for the LED-lighting system installation at the conservatory.
“Furthermore, the company is easy to communicate with, experienced, and helpful and serves as a great resource for projects and estimating.” – added Brewer.
Established in Canada in 1900, E.B. Horsman & Son is the largest full-line electrical supplier in Western Canada with specialty divisions in lighting, automation and controls, process instrumentation, data communications and commercial projects.
“Having a dedicated projects team in-house allows us to support big projects such as the Bloedel Conservatory lighting upgrade from start to finish,” said Rob Baker, E.B. Horsman & Son’s Lower Mainland Commercial Sales Manager. “This particular project required 64 made-to-order fixtures compared to standard off-the-shelf orders.”
E.B. Horsman & Son coordinated the complete order’s delivery for mid-September and early October. The company worked with Signify, Colour Kinetics, and SLS Lighting, the manufacturer agent in BC, to arrange air freight rather than standard ground shipping to ensure that Mott Electric received the products on- time.
The conservatory had a unique dome structure compared to other facilities which posed installation challenges to Mott Electric, one of the oldest and largest electrical contracting companies in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
“Mott Electric is experienced in lighting projects – installing the product itself was easy,” said Jenna Brewer. “However, the site’s unique layout tested our crew’s mobility; the installation of the lighting was done by electricians wearing harnesses attached to a permanent safety line. The process of moving along the ledge around the dome was slow and challenging,” explained Brewer.
Another challenge faced by Mott due to the unique structure and layout of the facility was accessing the dome’s top level where the lighting fixtures needed to be installed. The facility layout had one access point to the dome’s top level. This meant that the electrical crew had to start and finish at the same point regardless of where around the dome they had to install the fixtures, which made it very time consuming.
Lastly, “the environment of the conservatory was also unique; you don’t normally work in a warm and humid atmosphere in mid-fall/winter (when the installation took place),” said Brewer.
Mott Electric was able to finish the LED fixture installation within three-weeks.
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