In a previous article, we looked at the cost and efficiency savings with group relamping compared to spot relamping. For many facilities, group relamping makes the most sense from an energy, cost, labor, and light quality perspective. But what if you have multiple buildings spread out over several square blocks?
Princeton University is moving towards LED lighting as part of their Sustainability Plan, replacing over 100,000 light bulbs and fixtures with LED technology. The college states that this project “will significantly reduce carbon emissions, promote cost savings and limit waste.” Let’s look at each of these benefits in turn.
Switching from older technology like fluorescent to LED reduces carbon emissions from power plants because LEDs use less energy. The new LED fixtures and LED replacement bulbs are about 50 percent more efficient than the fluorescent lights they will replace. Princeton can reduce carbon emissions, as power companies do not have to use as much natural gas or coal to provide electricity that the university uses for its lighting.
Cost savings are one of the main benefits of LEDs, especially for facilities that have their lights on for 8, 12, or 24 hours per day. Switching to an expensive LED is a tough decision for homeowners, who may have lights on for 15 minutes to 3 hours a day. But for places that are open and occupied for longer, the up-front cost of a long-life LED can be made up in savings on maintenance costs. Princeton staff will spend far less time hauling ladders down long corridors to replace thousands of burnt-out bulbs each year.
The list of buildings that Princeton is replacing lights in is an indication of this:
“LED lighting upgrades are already underway in Icahn Laboratory, Fine Hall, parts of the Engineering Quadrangle and 701 Carnegie Center. This follows successful LED pilot projects during the past few years in West Garage, the visitor and faculty/staff parking lots near West Garage, Dillon Gymnasium, Woolworth Center for Musical Studies, MacMillan Building and Lewis Thomas Laboratory.”
Laboratories, gyms, music centers, garages, parking lots. All of these areas may have lights on at least 8 hours a day, and some may be on 24 hours a day. Switching from incandescent, HID, fluorescent, or halogen lamps to LED can be a significant savings in energy costs, and the payoff in lower energy bills can be almost immediate.
Interestingly, dorms, where students may spend only a few hours a day outside of class, are not on the list yet. The university is replacing bulbs in the facilities where lights are on for much longer periods of time.
Limiting waste is an unseen benefit of relamping to LED lights or changing to LED fixtures. Incandescent bulbs that last only six months or two years create waste during the manufacturing, shipping, and replacing of the bulbs. Fluorescent and HID bulbs contain mercury which has special disposal requirements in many states.
Princeton writes that, “the project is expected to eliminate the need to safely dispose of more than 60,000 lamps containing mercury.” One of the main reasons consumers have rejected compact fluorescent technology is the concern over mercury, and the hassle of disposing of a CFL in a compliant manner. LEDs contain no mercury.
The goal of Princeton’s energy policy is to reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The LED relamping project is scheduled to take until December 2016, and will be a large factor in the sustainability plans.
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