A brilliant idea for a more sustainable campus

Posted on Monday, October 9, 2017

Lightbulb illustrations.

By Alex Latus

The technology in light bulbs has come a long way since the days of Thomas Edison. From incandescent to fluorescent to light-emitting diodes (LEDs), each generation of bulbs has been both brighter and more energy-efficient than the last. Still, most of us only change one bulb at a time; the process is rarely exciting and the energy benefits can seem negligible.

But what if we repeated this process on a larger scale? What if we replaced, say, 90,000 light bulbs in a row?

Living up to their motto, “We Power Ideas”, that’s exactly what Facilities is planning to do!

Illustrations of houses and a smartphone.

Between October and January, their team will change roughly 90,000 fluorescent bulbs across campus, replacing them with more energy-efficient LEDs, a few buildings at a time. In fact, the new LEDs will consume a whopping 40% less power, which translates into savings of approximately 6,000,000 kilowatt hours a year. For those of us who aren’t electrical engineers, that’s enough energy to power 1.5 million smartphones, 25,000 TVs, or 666 houses… for a year!

Not only will the new lights significantly reduce the University’s electricity consumption and help make the campus more sustainable, the project will even pay for itself in a little over 18 months, generating further savings for years to come.

Like the light bulb icon, which has come to symbolize new ideas and innovation, this project is also a symbol. It illustrates how a simple decision to be more sustainable, how an action as small as changing a light bulb, can make a big difference when you multiply it.

So next time you’re swapping out a bulb at home, why not ask yourself “what else could I change?”

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