LED Lighting Delivers Value in Enhancing University Experience

Lighting plays a significant role in shaping university environments, and can be one of the most simple and effective ways to achieve significant reductions in energy and maintenance costs while improving on-campus experiences for students, faculty and visitors.

LED lighting provides a superior light quality compared to traditional light sources, such as fluorescent or HID lighting fixtures, resulting in a better working and learning environment. Since budgets are a top priority, university administrators can see bottom line results when switching to energy-efficient LED lighting and reallocate those funds to other administrative needs.

Seeing The Savings

In 2013, the nation’s educational institutions spent almost $14 billion annually on energy. Moreover, the Department of Energy (DOE) has calculated that lighting in institutional facilities, including universities, may consume up to one-third of a building’s total energy costs, making LED lighting an attractive opportunity to dramatically reduce energy costs. From administration offices to high-ceiling gymnasiums and fields, LED lighting can offer energy-efficient and near-maintenance-free illumination – providing rapid payback and real long-term budget savings for education facilities.

Additionally, federal and state building codes and standards, like the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification program by the U.S. Green Building Council and California’s Title 24, are aimed to facilitate increased efficiencies in commercial buildings, encouraging best-in-class building and lighting practices that can help alleviate associated energy costs for owners and operators. These standards include efficient lighting practices and requirements for efficient lighting practices, in conjunction with lighting control systems, to deliver increased performance for long-term cost saving benefits.

Illuminating Educational Environments

Whether you are seeking to implement these efficiency standards or streamlining your operations, high-quality LED lighting can deliver exceptional clarity and consistent full-spectrum illumination, making schools a brighter place to learn, teach and work – while delivering bottom line benefits. LED lighting provides an improved color quality over the fluorescent lighting common in educational settings, which can enhance classroom vibrancy.

With two-thirds of the brain devoted to visual processing, optimal classroom lighting is more than a utility. Studies have shown that color in teaching materials results in better student performance and improved information retention, therefore the quality of light can directly impact student awareness and attention to detail in classroom settings. It is one of the instructor’s most powerful tools for teaching.

Taking Control Of Lighting

Unlike other lighting technologies, LED lighting is adjustable and controllable to tailor lighting preferences to learning environments and activities. Advanced LED technologies allow lighting to be directly controlled and adjusted for different environments such as a lecture hall versus a dorm lobby. In conjunction with occupancy and daylight sensors to respond and distribute optimal light output for varying situations, LED lighting enabled by these controls can reduce energy consumption by as much as 70 percent compared to traditional fluorescent lighting. These features can also assist with building security thanks to occupancy sensors that activate lights when someone enters the room. Additionally, recent advancements in intelligent lighting allow for adjustable color temperature, which further enables dynamic and customizable lighting environments.

North Carolina State University realized the advantage of intelligent lighting systems in illuminating the first floor of North Hall, located on main campus. North Hall is one of the many locations at NC State that is open around the clock, and its lobby, recreation area and computer lab meant the first floor was heavily trafficked, and in need of light 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result, NC State installed LED lighting equipped with specialized technology including motion sensing to turn lights out when spaces are empty, and daylight harvesting to allow North Hall to only use the light needed, when its needed.

“The daylight sensing feature helps make sure we’re considering the light coming in from outside and are only using the amount of light from the fixtures that we need. The consistency and quality of the light we’re seeing is very impressive,” said Mark Sorrell, head electrician with NC State’s Campus Life department. “One of the biggest bonuses to using these fixtures with SmartCastT Technology is the time we’re saving with installation and maintenance.”

Lighting The Way

Indoors and outdoors, well-lit spaces help visitors travel around campus with confidence. LED lighting is ideal for outdoor campus settings such as parking lots and structures, main pedestrian walkways and bike paths, where high-quality illumination is essential. Most campus building exteriors and parking areas are lit 24-7-365, offering an even greater need for optimal lighting, particularly as campus security is top priority for administrators, students and staff. A well-designed, high-quality LED solution can provide superior light coverage, minimizing shadows and dark spots to improve visibility and sense of safety. LED lighting can also improve the performance of other safety systems, such as video cameras, by enabling clearer images.

The Milwaukee School of Engineering, for example, installed LED lighting in its new in-ground 780-car-capacity parking deck to improve illumination and reduce energy costs and consumption. As a result, the university anticipates seeing energy usage savings of 200,000 kW-h annually, while also saving time and money earmarked for maintenance needs.

Featuring advanced dimming capabilities, the LED lighting installed provided optimal illumination based on occupancy in the parking deck, enhancing the sense of safety and security for visitors.

Delivering Valuable Experience

LED lighting is transforming the educational environment creating better on-campus experiences for students and staff, making alternative lighting technologies like fluorescents a thing of the past. High-quality, energy-efficient LED lighting delivers cost-effective and vibrant environments campus-wide, while addressing bottom-line concerns, helping administrators invest in the future of their universities.

About the Author
John Casadonte is a vertical marketing manager at Cree, an industry leader in LED lighting for interior and exterior applications. He currently supports Cree’s Education initiative to help sustainability efforts and achieve LEED qualification for the many institutions nationwide.