Little Changes Add Up to Big Savings

January 06, 2015

Change can be a very good thing, especially when you’re talking about light bulbs – and that’s no joke.

Jesse Warren, sustainability program manager for buildings and operations with the University of Virginia’s Facilities Management division, has been working on an ongoing project swapping out lights in University buildings, replacing them with more efficient fluorescent lights. It’s all adding up to tens of thousands of dollars in savings.

On Dec. 17, crews from Lakeside Electric of Louisa started working on Hereford Residential College replacing older fluorescent lights with newer technology.

“One of the most eco-friendly things you can do is to make the building you have more sustainable,” Warren said.

Warren’s crews swapped out lights in Clemons and Alderman libraries in the summer of 2012. “Relamping” Clemons Library reduced its electrical usage by 88,759 kilowatt hours in fiscal year 2014, resulting in a savings of $7,358. During the same period of time, relamping Alderman Library reduced its electrical consumption by 328,791 kilowatt hours, for a $27,256 savings.

The newer bulbs use less electricity while producing the same lumens, the visible light produced by a bulb. Warren said they are designed to last longer and use less energy, which results in about $26 per bulb in energy savings over the course of their lifetimes compared to conventional technology.  

And that all can be done without having to replace the fixtures themselves, which would be much more expensive, he said.

“The benefits to us are twofold,” said Patricia Romer, director of business and facilities services for division of Housing and Residence Life. “It is a simple way of reducing energy consumption, which is in line with the University’s goals, and hopefully it will reduce some of our costs.”

Last summer, Warren hired three undergraduates – two mechanical engineering students and an architecture student – and had them survey more than 25 buildings on Grounds, inventorying all the opportunities for lighting efficiency improvements.

Several buildings were determined to be suitable for relamping, beginning with the Lambeth Apartments in August. Warren has estimated that the electric consumption there will be reduced by 36,251 kilowatt hours, for a projected savings of $3,687 for fiscal year 2015.

Hereford Residential College was next on the list, and Warren estimates that changing lights in the buildings’ common areas will conserve about 54,396 kilowatt hours of electricity and save a projected $4,400.

Romer said that lighting improvements are included in renovations that Housing has started in the Gooch/Dillard residence houses and planned renovations to the McCormick Road houses.

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications