Library staff at the Chewelah public library in northeastern Washington understand how important good lighting is to making interior spaces feel welcoming. A recent lighting upgrade now saves energy for the library district and creates a cozy and comfortable environment, especially in darker months with shorter days.
Part of the Stevens County Library District, the Chewelah branch is housed in a 2,500-square-foot older brick building brimming with architectural character. Located an hour northwest of Spokane, the library is well-used and plays an important role in its rural community.
Outdated system provides poor lighting
According to Bryan Tidwell, library manager, the historic library building is full of charm but sported an outdated lighting system that wasted energy and caused maintenance headaches for facility staff. With limited natural light, the building’s poor-quality overhead lighting wasn’t enough to penetrate the dark spaces when patrons tried to look for books, work at desks, or on the computer. Library staff needed a reliable system that reduced maintenance needs and improved light quality for visitors.
“For most of us in library work, we do a lot of stuff beyond what we’re trained to do,” said Tidwell. “When it comes to facilities issues, we rely on contractors or experts in the community. John Wilmoth with Trade Ally Network NW connected us to the incentive program offered by the City of Chewelah electric utility and helped us come up with a plan of action.”
Lighting retrofit brightens interior space
With approval from the library board, the Chewelah branch worked with electrical contractor Kan-Dho to update its old linear fluorescent lights with new LED troffer basket retrofit kits. The transformation was immediate. “The change in the lighting was quite dramatic and we’ve gotten great feedback from the community,” continued Tidwell. “Dim, yellowish fluorescent lights have been replaced with bright lights that are sleek and modern looking.”
The improved lighting is expected to save the library over 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually and reduce energy use by 73 percent. Incentives from the local utility covered nearly 50 percent of the project’s installation costs.
“The new lighting is saving energy, which saves taxpayer dollars, and it has a three-year payback,” he said. “We’re able to show we can be forward-thinking with the energy savings and good stewards of our mission. Plus, we’ve reduced our maintenance costs and created the type of clean, neat and welcoming environment we want the community to see and enjoy.”