Although the park was established over thirty years ago, the 60,000 acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), has never had a dedicated visitor center. With the support of the Recovery Act and Ric Alesch, Project Manager, the National Park Service (NPS) and its state and local partners will be opening its brand new Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch on June 9th.

The beautiful 7,000sq ft. visitor center is located in one of the three original buildings built by the Gillette razor magnate in 1929.  The center is in a former stable, which was completely gutted and rebuilt to serve the new use and qualify for LEED Platinum.  The Platinum certification was granted on May 15, 2012.

Because the project was funded by the Recovery Act, all building products had to be built in the U.S. When asked how Ric found Lighting Science Group’s bulbs, he replied that he’d first seen and purchased one under Home Depot’s EcoSmart label for personal use.  After noticing that the bulb that he’d put in his own home had the Manufactured in USA mark and a great performance, he knew he had to contact us.

When Lighting Science’s bulbs were tested by the NPS’s exhibit design center, Ric said they won out on “Energy savings, environmental benefits, long life, instant on, excellent lighting quality, and of course they were American made.”  Lighting Science’s manufacturing plant in Florida was used to build all of the PAR38 lamps for the visitor center track lighting. Ric has been a leader in professional and personal use of LED lighting technology, and pioneered the first use of LED lamps for NPS visitor center exhibit lighting at Lassen Volcanic National Park in 2008. Also, the SMMNRA park staff have been leaders in LED lighting retrofitting in the National Park System, converting about 50% of their lighting parkwide to LED, with plans to make that 100% in the next couple years.

The King Gillette Visitor Center will be the first facility to be completely lit with LEDs and the first Net Zero visitor center in the National Park System (390 parks). Southern California Edison performed an energy audit of the space and found that Lighting Science’s lamps (when completely on) will only be using .5 watts per square foot.  And, because the building also has skylights in the roof and the lighting is on a programmable dimming system, the average wattage usage is expected to be even less. Lighting Science is excited to welcome the NPS to the Light Ages.

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