Case Study

Lighting The University Of Washington's Dempsey Indoor Center

September 17, 2020 comm ARCH


There are many factors to consider in college athletics that can make a big difference in both an athlete’s performance and the fan experience – lighting is one of them. Used every day from 7 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Center is considered one of the premier indoor facilities on the West Coast. The 80,000-square-foot Dempsey is used as a practice facility for football, baseball, softball, and soccer, and is home to the Husky track and field competition. Built-in 2001 and with round-the-clock use, the Dempsey needed a lighting upgrade that provided better light coverage and increased efficiency.

“Whether you have teams hitting, catching, or fielding a ball when practicing or competing in an indoor track meet, we need to ensure we have the best lighting coverage for events and competitions,” said Megan Welsch, University of Washington director of operations and events. “We also wanted to be more energy-efficient while increasing the amount of light in the facility.”


Light quality at the Dempsey was not aligned with how the facility is used today as a multi-sport training and event space. After touring other PAC-12 Conference and NFL facilities that have transitioned to LED lighting, it was apparent that it was time for an upgrade.

Working with their consulting engineers, the University of Washington put together a lighting RFP to identify the best design that met National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) standards for broadcasting indoor track events, reduced high angle glare without sacrificing light output, delivered remarkable light quality, and dependable performance, and was easy to maintain and energy-efficient.

The University, in conjunction with its contractor —Northwest Edison, chose to install Cree Lighting’s HXB Series, a high-bay luminaire that delivers up to 70,000 lumens at up to 150 LPW as a part of the overall project. Engineered to deliver and maintain the light levels needed, the HXB Series provides ultra-long life, zero restrike times, and virtually maintenance-free performance in the toughest environments, all while backed with Cree Lighting’s 10-year limited warranty.

Previously, campus maintenance teams would replace the old fixtures at least twice a year and would shut down the facility for a full day. Now, the University of Washington can expect the HXB Series to perform for 100,000 hours or the next 11 years.

“My impression of the HXB Series is that it is well-built, very clean looking, and blends in well with the ceiling,” said Dan Cronk, a Northwest Edison electrician who installed the luminaires. “It was a very simple installation and overall, the project went very well. I would recommend the HXB Series for another high-bay installation.”


According to Welsch, athletes and visitors have noticed the significant improvement the HXB Series luminaires have made

in the Dempsey. “We wish we could install the HXB Series in other facilities,” she said.

By installing the HXB Series, the University was able to eliminate additional fixtures around the track and the need for existing up-mounted wall lights. Since completion of the upgrade, the University of Washington has realized a reduction in kWh of nearly 40% for lighting purposes. In addition to the savings incurred based on the reduction in kWh used, the University was eligible to participate in an incentive program through Seattle City Light and realized further savings on maintenance costs and facility downtime.

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