LEDs boost energy savings in campus buildings

The lab's high ceilings increase lighting maintenance costs. With longer-lasting LEDs, less maintenance is required, resulting in cost savings.
The lab’s high ceilings increase lighting maintenance costs. With longer-lasting LEDs, maintenance  demands are reduced, resulting in cost savings.

In NC State’s Constructed Facilities Lab, where students push construction technology to its limits, new LED lights now push to maximize the building’s energy efficiency.

This spring the building’s older, inefficient interior lighting systems were replaced with LED technology, which now lights research areas, stairwells, conference rooms and offices. Financed through an energy conservation fund managed by NC State’s Energy Management, the LED technology will help reduce the university’s energy costs.

“Replacing traditional lighting systems with LED technology provides financial benefits in the form of lower utility bills and maintenance costs,” said Claudia Powell, an Energy Management program coordinator. “LED technology is particularly favorable when replacing energy intensive bulbs or those in hard to reach or heavily utilized spaces.”

Longer-lasting LEDs reduce how often lights must be replaced, contributing to significant savings in the lab’s research areas, where high ceilings require rental of a mechanical lift to replace bulbs. Also, the building’s stairwells now feature motion-sensor lighting, which automatically dims lights after a period of inactivity, and building occupants have different lighting level options in offices and conference rooms.

“In a lot of the rooms we now have dual switches where we can turn on half power or full power,” said building technician Jerry Atkinson, who emphasizes energy efficiency to all lab users. “I’m encouraging students [in the lab] to try to minimize energy use even more by just using half power when possible.”

Energy-saving motion sensors in stairwells automatically dim LED lights after a period of inactivity.
Energy-saving motion sensors in stairwells dim LED lights after a period of inactivity.

While the largest recent installation, this project isn’t the only energy-efficient lighting installation on campus this fiscal year. From new LED chandelier lights at the Park Alumni Center to LEDs in Nelson Hall stairwells, where expected annual savings are estimated at $1,700, NC State is using this advanced lighting technology to boost energy savings in buildings such as College of Veterinary Medicine Main Building, Brooks Hall, Scott Hall, Poulton Innovation Center and Wolf Ridge Apartments. Plans are underway for more LED installations next fiscal year.