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Lighting the Edmonton Remand Centre – Case Study

May 9, 2020  By Anthony Capkun

May 9, 2020 – At a time before LED lighting was as widespread and affordable as it is now, how was a facility to reduce energy costs without sacrificing safety and security?

This was a problem faced by the Edmonton Remand Centre during its construction. The LEED Silver-certified, 609,000-sq.ft. building was the largest public building project ever undertaken by the Government of Alberta and cost about $568 million to construct.

The facility, which has a capacity of about 2,000 inmates, is known as the largest, most technologically-advanced remand facility in Canada. The Centre contains all necessary electrical and security systems segregated to one campus-style site, with all mission-critical systems backed up for full redundancy operation.

As the Edmonton Remand Centre was being built, the project members were challenged to achieve LEED Silver certification and energy savings, without sacrificing safety. At the time of lighting specification, LED luminaires were not an option for the entirety of the project, as they were very early in development, not readily available in a detention luminaire, and the price point was still very high.


The electrical contractor, British Columbia-based Canem Systems, solved this challenge by installing over 5,000 fluorescent luminaires – many with LED night lights – in inmate access areas including cells, corridors, program areas and the facility’s full-service medical treatment centre. This solution reduced maintenance and energy costs and achieved the goal of LEED certification within budget.

“The luminaires’ superior performance is allowing us to install fewer fluorescent tubes, reducing the watts per square meter usage, while still maintaining equivalent lighting levels when compared to other options,” said Matt Strickland, project manager at Canem Systems, in a Kenall case study.

A spotlight on safety

The luminaires the contractor chose were selected for many reasons. For example, the luminaires’ power tray was easily removed and replaced with a spare assembly, reducing the amount of time spent in an inmate cell. If a repair did become necessary, the nature of the luminaire allowed the maintenance to be completed elsewhere, rather than in the cell.

Almost 1,200 of the surface ceiling-mounted fixtures installed have an LED night light, which combines energy efficiency with reduced maintenance costs. The LED night light is adjustable, minimizing inmate vandalism due to excessive brightness while they are trying to sleep. In addition, the night lights are dimmable to 20 per cent and may be adjusted up to full brightness for safer bed checks.

Integrating energy efficiency into a construction project via a one-time investment will achieve ongoing financial savings for years to come—benefitting staff and taxpayers alike.

— With files from Kenall.

This article—along with other great content—appears in the April 2020 edition of Electrical Business Magazine.

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