New rec center lighting brightens space, bottom line |

New rec center lighting brightens space, bottom line

New, brighter LED lighting can be found in the gymnasium and cardio balcony at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
Chelsea Self | Post Independent

A lighting upgrade at the Glenwood Springs Community Center has brightened things up quite a bit, while resulting in significant cost savings for the facility.

New LED light fixtures were installed last week in the gymnasium and cardio balcony areas at the community center, Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Director Tom Barnes said.

The switch improved the lighting level from an average of less than 20 footcandles to 34 footcandles in many areas.

“That brings us to the industry standard needed to provide a safe environment for the variety of court sports that we have taking place in the gym,” Barnes said.

From an operational standpoint, the new lighting is also expected to result in enough energy savings to pay for itself in less than three years, he said.

“We’re improving our recreation environment and saving money,” he said.

It has taken several years to get to a price point that justified the upgrade. Barnes said the city first started looking at a range of energy efficiency upgrades, including the lighting system, in 2009-10.

“LED really wasn’t practical at the time, so we were advised to wait a few years,” he said.

Another analysis was done in 2013, and the project would have cost about $30,000 to $50,000 at that time.

Last year, however, Barnes said he was contacted by former City Council member Shelley Kaup, who works for the nonprofit Clean Energy Economy for the Region. She suggested the city take another look.

The cost had come down to $12,000, and through a rebate program the cost will end up being about $10,000, Barnes said.

“Based on the estimated use just in the gym and cardio balcony, we’re looking at between $4,000 and $5,000 in savings as well,” he said, meaning the upgrade will pay for itself in short order and result in long-term savings on the community center’s electric bill.

That’s a “nice chunk” of money given the facility’s roughly $130,000 in electrical costs last year, Barnes said.

The bulb life is also expected to be about 10 to 12 years based on current utilization of the facility, more than double the life of the former compact fluorescent fixtures. The city is also looking into the costs to add LED lighting in the swimming pool area and at the ice rink facility.

Barnes said it all adds up to helping the community center become more self-sufficient as well.

Beyond what the recreation facility recovers through use fees, the community center is subsidized each year using a portion of the city’s special acquisitions and improvements sales tax funds.

Cost recovery has averaged about 56.5 percent over the last three years, Barnes said. The community center’s 2015 expenses came to a little over $2.2 million.

That’s more than double the average cost recovery for public recreation centers across the country, which in 2013 was about 23 percent, he said. That same year, the Glenwood Springs facility managed to recover 59 percent of its expenses through fees, Barnes said.

“At the same time our City Council has been very supportive and has held the line on fee increases,” Barnes said.

The A&I tax is due to expire at the end of 2018, and city officials are in the early stages of putting together a proposal to ask voters to extend the tax. The current community center subsidy is likely to be one of the selling points.

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