Every day, more than 300,000 motorists pass by the electronic sign alongside Interstate 110 that announces coming events at the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Sports Arena — the venue listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks and the only stadium to host two Olympic Games (1932 and 1984), two Super Bowls (including the first, in 1967), a World Series and a host of major concerts as well as mass political and religious events.
Pervaiz Lodhie was one of those motorists some months ago, driving up the Harbor Freeway, just south of downtown Los Angeles. “This is an iconic marquee on a key north-south transportation corridor that connects Los Angeles’ central business district and the Port of Los Angeles,” remarks Mr. Lodhie. “And yet, since the last Olympics, I’ve seen the sign deteriorate in light quality, consistency and brightness.”
He should know. Mr. Lodhie is founder and president of LEDtronics, one of the first solid-state lighting design and manufacturing companies in the country. He has driven past the freeway sign since the days before the 1984 Olympics, when he commuted to California State University’s Los Angeles campus, working on his Mechanical Engineering degree. In the 30 years since then, LEDtronics has grown from its start as a small two-person operation to become one of the world’s leaders in the currently flourishing industry of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly light-emitting-diode (LED) lamps, serving the challenging lighting needs of some of the largest Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.
“That particular day I decided it was time to do something to bring the sign back from disrepair and to improve the image of the city and one of its world-renowned assets,” Mr. Lodhie says. “After living the immigrant success story, it was time to give back to the community.”
After contacting the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, his offer to have all 160 energy-hungry, burnt-out fluorescent T12 tube lights replaced with energy-efficient bright LED T8 lamps was gladly accepted.
“With some quick and dirty math, the freeway sign is consuming almost 300 KwH less per day—nearly a 57% reduction in daily consumption,” notes Robert C. Joyner, head of the commission’s Stadium Operations and Special Projects. “This dramatic overall reduction is exclusive to these 160 vertically mounted LED tubes. It started in September 2012 and continued to dip through December as we replaced those old fluorescent bulbs illuminating the vertical Red, White and Blue stripes with the LED tube replacements donated by LEDtronics.”
At a meeting in December, Interim Manager John R. Sandbrook expressed the commission’s appreciation to Mr. Lodhie and other LEDtronics managers for the donation of the tube lights, specifically acknowledging the consistency and brightness of the LED T8 lamps.
At an average cost of $.20 per KwH, Mr. Joyner estimates that the energy savings amount roughly to $1,800 per month, or nearly $20,000 per year!
“I am glad this replacement project completed both its objectives: to reduce our overall electrical consumption and to improve the sign’s aesthetics for the public,” he adds.
The upgraded electronic message board sits on the east side of the Harbor Freeway and provides a total of 3,000 square feet of off-site signage for Coliseum and Sports Arena events as well as commercial advertising. The marquee is elevated some 45 feet from the ground.
The 8-foot LED T8 tube lights consume only 36 watts of power and replace fluorescent lamps that consume up to 60 watts. In addition to energy savings, LED T8 tube lights last up to 50,000 hours with a maximum degradation of only 30% in the harsh outdoor environment.
“Whenever I drive by the freeway sign nowadays, I feel glad at what a bit of new technology can do to lift up one’s civic pride and to affirm one’s belief in the American Dream,” remarks Mr. Lodhie. “The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was dedicated in 1923 to honor World War I veterans; what better way to keep that message alive than with an electronic marquee that gleams with red, white and blue lights to thousands of freeway drivers every single day.”
Photos Courtesy of Michael Boeger