Shutting off the lights when leaving a room and using more energy-efficient light bulbs are easy, but effective, ways to improve energy efficiency — especially at Tech.
“One of our goals was to ensure that lights in campus common areas weren’t on unless the room was occupied,” said Michael Leasure, assistant director of energy conservation. “But the solution wasn’t as simple as someone flipping a switch, even though the end result involves even less thought than turning off a light switch.”
Sometimes the light switch in the area wasn’t located at the entrance, so people couldn’t easily access it when coming and going. In some older campus buildings, lights were turned off and on by a breaker in a switch panel, so there was no light switch at all, Leasure added.
The solution was to install an automated option that turns lights on if someone enters the area and off whenever an area is vacant for 15 minutes, and keeps emergency exit lighting on at all times.
Facilities also decided to change the light bulbs used in some buildings. Instead of using four T-12 fluorescent bulbs, they are currently upgrading fixtures so they can use two T-8 fluorescent bulbs. This requires gutting the light fixtures, installing new sockets for the bulbs and changing out the electronics that connect to the lights.
“It’s amazing, but when we changed from the T-12 to T-8 bulbs, the light readings were almost identical before and after the change,” Leasure said.
Funding for both the automated lighting systems and fixtures is made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provided Tech with $2.7 million to improve the energy efficiency of lighting on campus.
About 35 buildings will receive the automated systems and 29 will get the updated fixtures. One stipulation of the ARRA funding was that only buildings located on portions of campus funded by the state were eligible for the improvements, which does not include buildings that house, for example, parking or athletics.
By using the automated lighting systems and new fixtures, Tech should save about $347,000 each year for the next four years. All of the work related to these upgrades should be complete by December.
Questions? Email Leasure.