City of Vestavia Hills

Challenge

The lighting systems at the City of Vestavia Hills’outdoor sporting facilities, including its baseball, soccer fields, pool and tennis courts, were outdated, with some fixtures nearly thirty years old. The city desired to improve the lighting to reduce operating and energy costs, increase safety for sports teams using the facilities, and attract additional local revenue by hosting more tournaments. With no capital funds available, the city also sought a financing solution for its lighting upgrade.

Solution

The City of Vestavia Hills’ lighting contractor, Musco Lighting, a designer and manufacturer of sports lighting for more than thirty years, conducted a detailed audit of the lighting at the city’s sports facilities. To meet the desired objectives, a citywide replacement of the sports lighting was recommended, with the use of a performance contract suggested as a way to finance the needed upgrades. Impressed with Trane’s strong local presence, with numerous employees living and active in the community, and its veteran team’s approach to providing solutions, the city selected Trane as its lighting upgrade partner following a competitive selection process.

Capital cost avoidance
The city used a Trane PACT™ (Performance Agreement for Comfort from Trane) agreement to help fund its lighting upgrade. The agreement allowed the city to leverage future energy savings to finance the upgrade, without upfront capital. Trane worked with the city to complete necessary paperwork and met with the State of Alabama Department of Economic Development to ensure funding approval. Using the PACT agreement, the city was able to obtain a low-rate Federal Qualified Energy Conservation Bond to finance the project. With the guaranteed energy savings and the operational savings, the financing was structured to have positive cash flow within one year.

Trouble-free operation
Old wooden poles at the Cahaba Heights Complex were replaced and underground wiring was installed, along with the new advanced Musco sports lighting equipment. The lighting systems require little maintenance and feature poles designed to withstand 140 mile per hour winds. With no need to change ballasts or to reposition lights after the area’s frequent thunderstorms, maintenance costs have been drastically reduced.

Improved visibility
The new lighting system properly concentrates the lights where illumination is needed most. Team coaches are pleased with the well-lit fields that improve safety on the playing fields by increasing visibility and making it less likely for outfielders to lose the ball in blinding light. The brighter, better-directed illumination also makes the sporting activities more enjoyable for fans, allowing the city to more competitively bid for area sports tournaments.

Reduced energy and operational costs
With better concentrated lighting, the city has been able to reduce the number of fixtures from 1400 to a little over 700, drastically reducing electricity costs. The city’s limited maintenance staff, previously required to visit each park on a schedule to turn the lights on and off, now uses the automated controls on the new Musco lighting system to do the job remotely, saving manpower and electricity.

Results

Using a Trane performance contract and advanced Musco Lighting systems, the City of Vestavia Hills has completely upgraded the lighting at its sports fields, pool and tennis courts. In line with its environmentally conscious initiatives, the new lighting is helping the City of Vestavia Hills to reduce energy costs, with early measurement and verification data showing nearly a 50 percent decrease in energy usage. The more efficient, robust lighting systems could potentially reduce maintenance costs up to $5,000 a month.

Improved safety for players and increased visibility for fans have made the city more competitive in its bid for sports tournaments, helping to increase local revenues. With no capital outlay needed for the project due to the use of the performance contract, the city has been able to use its limited funds for other needed expenditures.

“Trane was instrumental in helping us obtain the financing,” said Brian Davis, Director of Public Services. “They made sure everything went well with the lighting project, were easy to work with and were always readily available if there was something we needed."

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