In the U.S., higher education facilities spend an average of $1.10 per square foot on electricity costs, 31% ($0.34) of which are lighting costs. In most colleges and universities, laboratory and residential buildings are the biggest energy users. At Harvard University, for example, while laboratory buildings make up only 22% of the buildings on campus, they use 49% of the total energy; residential buildings and dorms account for 18% of the university’s energy consumption.
Therefore, making any changes to the lighting can have a big impact on overall energy spending. Any effort to increase energy efficiency and lower energy costs should include updating the existing lighting fixtures and employing a lighting control system. The best time to make these changes is when school is on holiday breaks. The dorms and laboratory buildings are empty or underutilized and retrofit projects can be scheduled to fit with existing occupancy and activities.
Advanced Lighting Options
One key way to reduce energy costs is switching to advanced lighting options, like light emitting diodes (LED). This type of lighting lasts an average from three to five times longer than the fluorescent lighting tubes often used in laboratory facilities. And compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, which are often used in residential facilities, the more energy efficient bulbs like LEDs or compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) use 25-80% less energy and last three to five times longer, saving on energy costs.
Not only do advanced lighting options save energy and money, they create safer and healthier workspaces in laboratories and dorms, with consistent bright lighting that also reduces the eye strain and headaches often caused by poor lighting.
In addition to installing more energy-friendly bulbs, scheduling when lighting is used saves energy (and costs). Putting lighting on a schedule also enables universities and colleges to use only the minimum energy required. For example, lighting can be set to minimum settings for safety during overnight hours when a laboratory is unoccupied or set to dim when there is enough light coming from a window. Lighting in the public areas of dormitories and other residences can use occupancy sensors to turn off or reduce lighting during breaks when students are not living in the rooms.
A lighting retrofit is a very cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption on college campuses. By making some simple changes and taking advantage of the natural cycle of uptime and downtime on a campus, higher education facilities can truly benefit from making a few small changes in how they light their campus buildings.
Contact us to make the most of this upcoming winter break with an LED lighting upgrade at your school. Your students and staff will thank you!
Originally published on November 16, 2018
Last updated on 12/10/2019
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