Cleveland Botanical Garden Glasshouse Relighting

The Cleveland Botanical Garden is one of the many jewels of University Circle in Cleveland, and now it sparkles again!   Tec inc. Engineering & Design completed the electrical engineering to support Tec Studio's lighting design and control system design for the 18,000 square foot Glasshouse originally constructed in 2003. The Glasshouse is divided into an arid Madagascar habitat and a tropical Costa Rican habitat complete with 350 species of exotic plants and 50 different types of butterflies, birds, reptiles and amphibians within the space. 

The new LED system includes both upper level color-changing luminaires as well as new midlevel and low level LED landscape lighting. Lighting controls that are simple on the user side allow the staff to set scenes - visitors may experience sunrise or sunset, take a moonlit stroll, or walk through the dark of night. Other scenes can be set for holiday and special events. 

Challenges included careful fixture selection that could withstand the corrosive reverse osmosis system built into the Costa Rican habitat. Finally, the landscape lighting didn’t always get placed in the intended location due to the tree roots, but alternate locations worked just as well.

The existing lighting within the Glasshouse was completely replaced with new low maintenance energy efficient LED lighting.  To enhance the experience, three levels of lighting was were designed for the space.  The first level is low voltage landscape lighting which was specifically aimed to highlight the unique plants and features in the garden.  Color gels were added to this lighting in specific locations for effect. The low voltage wiring for this lighting was buried in the garden substrate using flexible metal conduit with a Plastic coating so it is protected from damage.  The second level of LED lighting was installed on the walkways and stairs to allow better visibility around the paths and elevator.  The third level of lighting was installed on the overhead trusses and serves as the ambient lighting creating the mood and overall feel of the space.  The overhead light fixtures are commonly used for large color changing applications both indoors and outdoors. The lighting control panel allows each fixture to be color changed with over 35 million colors. In addition the LED technology provides a low maintenance 14 year life expectancy.  The ETC lighting control panel has scene setting and programming capability to control each fixture independently or in groups.  Scenes were pre-programmed and can be selected by the Botanical Garden staff to create different lighting effects for the various events and programs it the Glasshouse. The new system has a connected load of only 0.41 watts/sq. ft., far below the allowed 1.06 watts/sq.ft. per the current energy standard in the State of Ohio.

The project was not without a few challenges to plan for and work around.  The extreme environmental conditions in the Glasshouse do not play well with electrical devices. All of the lighting products used are weathertight and made of anti-corrosive material to help with longevity.  In addition, the flying birds and butterflies in the Glasshouse needed to be safe from the heat produced by the light fixtures.  The external temperature of the new light fixtures when operating was specifically selected to prevent damage to the unique animals that inhabit the Glasshouse habitats. 

The project was completed within a 6 month time frame to allow continuing operation within the space and completion by the holiday GLOW event in 2017.