It may have been poor planning on the city's part, but a pricey revamp to the environmentally-friendly lighting system at the parking garage could save money in the long run.
The City Council has signed off on spending $207,031 to redo the system, which was designed to reduce energy output by bouncing light from fluorescent bulbs off the structure's white ceiling.
A new system is needed, staffers said, because dirt is settling on the lenses and dimming the lights. They estimate it would cost about $3,000 a year to sweep the dust away.
"The city hasn't done lights like that before," said Brenden McEneaney, the city's green building program advisor. "Not enough thought [was] given to the maintenance needs of the lights."
At the end of June, the City Council approved a $207,031-contract with Golden Sun Firm and Company, Inc. to replace the fluorescent lights with LEDs, which are supposed to last three times as long, according McEneaney.
Additionally, McEneaney said new controls will be installed to lower the lights when the garage is empty, and will shut off the lights when there's enough sunlight to keep the structure lit. Currently, there's only an on/off switch.
Erected five years ago at the cost of $29 million, the garage was touted as the first building of its type in the country to receive a LEED-certified rating through the U.S. Green Building Council. With the new system, the Santa Monica sustainability office says the structure could become the city's first zero-energy building.
Staffers said the lighting redo will save the city about $32,000 a year in maintenance and energy costs.