Strategic Resource Solutions Lighting (SRS) of Clayton, NC, used acrylic fiber and illuminators to creatively, and efficiently, decorate a live cedar Christmas tree located near the chapel at the Pope Air Force base in Fayetteville, NC. "The 20' (6m) tree could be seen a mile away, across the length of the runway. Base officials described the tree as 'cosmic' and it was really spectacular," says Ashley Fletcher, product manager for SRS' federal accounts.

"In place of a traditional star, a plume effect of pure white light was created using one Remote Source Lighting International (RSLI) 150W metal-halide illuminator and many stranded fibers from Fiberstars just spread out," Fletcher says. Conventional strands of Christmas lights were replaced with 12" end-emitting 12-strand fibers (Fiberstars FS-EL-6 PMMA fiber, modified with the black protective cover removed) split into three groups of four individual fibers. This created three fiber "light bulbs," distributed throughout the tree. Three RSLI 175W halogen illuminators with color wheels fed 1" harnesses consisting of 78 bundles of fiber each. "We made sure to group the fiber from the same areas into different pumps, so that there wouldn't be one area of the tree going red, while another went blue or green. We wanted lights popping all over the place in different colors," Fletcher says. Through the color wheel, the illuminators were programmed for rapid and random color changing.

The decorated tree (above) consumed just 750W, compared to 20,000W last year. All of the illuminators were housed in NEMA enclosures, provided by SRS's parent company, Carolina Power & Light. Fletcher says, "the enclosures were painted white and decorated with ribbons and bows to resemble gifts. These were placed next to the tree and powered from one timer-controlled 20A circuit. The RSLI illuminators have built-in fans, so we drilled ventilation holes in the enclosures and never had a problem with overheating or moisture."

SRS's involvement with federal agencies is extensive, due in part to the issuance of Executive Order #12902, which mandates a 30% reduction in energy consumption by federal agencies and facilities by the year 2005. SRS has specified numerous fiber-optic systems and Fusion Lighting's electrodeless sulfur lamp with 3M Light Pipe (Lighting Dimensions, May 1997) to achieve significant energy efficiency and provide effective lighting for hazardous environments such as airplane paint booths, munitions storage, and maintenance facilities.

Installing the tree was itself a labor-intensive challenge that required a bucket truck for three days. The fibers were individually tied to each branch. SRS personnel completed terminations inthe field, using hot knives and other tools and connectors. Originally, side-emitting fiber was to be used to garland the tree, but the branches of the cedar were not strong enough to support its weight, so the strands were adopted as the only decoration. According to Fletcher, "the installation process was substantially longer than if conventional string-type lights were used. However, preparations will be faster this year, since the fiber is considered semi-permanent and will remain in the tree."