New colored LED lights are being installed in the two spires.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Workers installing LEDs above the pendulum at the Oregon Convention Center.

New LED lights are being installed in Portland, that will light up iconic towers with a glow of colors — and provide significantly greater energy efficiency.

Right now in the Oregon Convention Center, contractor Bull Run Electric is installing the new LED lights in a project that began construction late April.

Soon new programmable, colored LED lights will add drama to the city's nighttime skyline, enhance the convention center's visitor experience and amplify its forward-thinking brand.

"We've systematically replaced more than 75 percent of our interior lighting with more energy-efficient LED fixtures," said Matt Pizzuti, OCC interim executive director. "We're excited to continue this building-wide effort to include our tower lights, which will also offer our clients some unique customization options for their events."

The OCC's budget was $650,000 and the contract with Bull Run Electric came in under budget at $499,921.

Bull Run Electric, employing four to six electricians per shift, is recycling existing fixtures and installing the new collection of LEDs on nonconsecutive nights surrounding the events schedule.

"Our biggest challenge was finding an LED fixture that could hold up to the heat generated in the upper levels of the towers during the summer months," said Karol Collymore, policy development program manager at Oregon Metro Visitor Venues. "We worked with Stantec Consultants to help us find products that would work in our environment."

Sustainable, with colors

The Oregon Convention Center is owned by Metro and managed by the Metro Exposition and Recreation Commission. OCC is a LEED Platinum certified facility hosting groups from around the world and bringing millions of dollars into the Portland and Oregon economy.

Collymore told the Business Tribune the contractor is removing the 76 fixtures in each tower, which are a mix of 400 and 250-watt bulbs.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - The new LEDs are more energy efficient and are programmable with different colors depending on the event or commemoration.

"We're reducing that to 39 fixtures in each tower, dramatically reducing the wattage in both," Collymore said. "It goes along with the Convention Center's overall commitment to sustainability and efficient use of light and energy: the energy use of new fixtures will be cut in half over existing figures when the towers are illuminated."

During the day, the two 320-foot spire towers provide natural lighting to the center. The original tower lights were installed 26 years ago, and the updated lighting system is one of many steps the LEED Platinum certified center is taking to reduce its overall energy usage.

"The other great thing about it is they'll be able to change color like the bridges are able to change colors, depending on what's happening," Collymore said. "The folks inside at events have the first right to color changes, but usually it will be the standard white light."

She said they're working on ideas, like if someone requested pink lights for breast cancer month for example.

"We're still working out details hoping there will be an option for city-wide requests," Collymore said. "The lights will be able to be run from the inside, that's what enables us to change color and scheme."

The LED installation follows a solar panel array on the rooftop. One of the largest in the nation, 6,500 panels produce 25 percent of the OCC's electricity.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JAIME VALDEZ - Staff from Bull Run Elelctric have begun replacing the incandescent lights, which are a mix of 400 and 250-watt bulbs, in the Oregon Convention Centers famous twin towers.

"The OCC has been looking at options to upgrade the lighting in the towers over the past three years," Collymore said. "Originally, we looked at a one-for-one replacement of existing lamps with an LED lamp to reduce wattage and gain longer lamp life (but) over the past few years LED technology has advanced, so we decided on installing color-changing LEDs that could be used for special events."

The Oregon Convention Center already replaced about 75 percent of its interior lighting with more energy-efficient fixtures, but hasn't touched the towers until now.

"We installed multiple test fixtures over the past couple of years before identifying a fixture that met all of our requirements," Collymore said. "The process was a little longer than we thought originally, but it was important to find the right fixtures for our application."

Additionally, reduced maintenance costs are anticipated as a result of the new fixtures. The tower lights will be off until the project is completed, anticipated in early June.

By Jules Rogers
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