School Lighting Upgrades Save Money, Allowing Schools to Make Health and Achievement Promoting Repairs
America’s schools spend more than $8 billion each year on energy – more than is spent on textbooks and computers combined. About 26 percent of electricity consumed by a typical school is for lighting alone. Often, even more is spent to compensate for the heat generated by outdated lighting fixtures. These expenditures on utilities could be redirected toward ensuring the general good condition, health, safety, and educational adequacy of school buildings, particularly for those in greatest disrepair. If your school hasn’t updated its lighting in the past five years, a lighting retrofit could present an opportunity to reduce the amount of energy you use for lighting by 30 to 50 percent and for cooling by 10 to 20 percent.
The health benefits of lighting upgrades are both indirect and direct: cost savings generated by energy efficiency upgrades can be used toward health and safety promoting building renovations and the upgrades themselves can have positive health impacts. For example, upgrading to newer lighting fixtures can reduce the risk of exposure to harmful contaminants, such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), carcinogens that can lead to a variety of adverse health effects on the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. Trained personnel can carefully dispose of old PCB-containing lighting fixtures and replace them with new fixtures free of PCBs.
Attention to appropriate lighting levels and an increased use of natural daylight can also improve student performance. A 2003 study found that classrooms with the most daylighting had a 20 percent better learning rate in math, and a 26 percent improved rate in reading, compared to classrooms with little or no daylighting. Improving daylighting doesn’t have to involve a renovation. It can be as simple as moving stacked supplies away from windows to let the natural light shine in!
Des Moines Central Campus High School in Des Moines, Iowa, a 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School, improved its energy efficiency through targeted lighting upgrades, completing extensive renovations that transformed the Central Campus building from a 1918 Ford car factory into a modern educational space with energy-efficient lighting. Renovations to the school’s facilities took advantage of available natural light and reduced the need for artificial light.
Increasing the lighting voltage – or the energy required to move the electronic charge along the circuit – from 120V to 277V helped to improve the lighting circuit efficiency. Replacing all fluorescent T12 magnetic fixtures with more energy-efficient T8 fixtures improved the quality and efficiency of the lighting. Finally, sensors installed in the school eliminated energy waste in unoccupied areas.
As of 2012, these and other improvements have helped Des Moines Central Campus to reduce its energy use by 28 percent compared to a 2008 baseline. The school regularly tracks its energy performance using Portfolio Manager, EPA’s free ENERGY STAR measurement and tracking tool. As a result of Des Moines Central Campus High School’s success in reducing environmental impact and costs, the school earned the ENERGY STAR from the EPA. This work in Pillar I, coupled with its efforts to improve health and wellness and provide effective environmental and sustainability education made it a 2012 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.
To learn more about how efficiency upgrades can save your school energy costs and allow it to address critical facilities health and safety, ensuring students have a fair shot at performing at their best, visit Energy Star for Schools and the ED-GRS resources page. Hundreds of schools across the country are proving that you do not have to wait to improve the quality of your school facilities. Lighting upgrades are but one way that energy efficiency upgrades and the cost savings they produce can support healthy, safe, and high achievement promoting school environments.
Andrea Falken is director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
October 15, 2012
By Jing Jin
In the past year, ardent and persistent campaigning from students who have since established Energy Corps has yet to result in such a fund at this university. While I support Energy Corps and SEI for championing a self-sustaining funding stream for energy efficiency projects, I am not yet convinced that such funds and their concomitant projects result in a meaningful net reduction in energy use.
When I asked if the specific projects advocated by SEI were mostly technology retrofits targeted toward infrastructure, for example motion sensor lights, or if they included behavior change campaigns targeted toward users, Orlowski was careful to say that SEI focused on funding and left project selection up to each school.
Sure, retrofitting a building or dorm reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions, but if the University continues expanding in Ithaca and beyond, tweaks here and there will not balance the carbon books as more services are provided and students served. I am not anti-growth and share the excitement for the tech campus and other facets of our burgeoning global presence. I do, however, want to urge that as we cast our eyes on greater prospects, we must also hold the University to its commitment of climate neutrality by 2050.
Energy use, of course, is a mind-numbing practical and ethical dilemma facing not just universities but consumers at every level — from individuals to the world as a whole. It is certainly a big ticket issue in the presidential election, whether a voter is more concerned with securing supplies of fuel, access to which fluctuates with domestic and international politics, or more concerned with abating the environmental consequences of present and projected energy practices.
Energy independence is a far more complicated goal than the emerging reality the candidates have made it out to be. In the first debate, President Obama celebrated that “oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years.” Indeed, as James Burkhard of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates has testified in the Senate, “A ‘Great Revival’ in US oil production is taking place — a major break from the near 40-year trend of falling output.” Forty years ago, the U.S. was also in the grips of the Arab oil embargo, which cemented fuel supply as a supreme source of national anxiety.
The load of the U.S.’s oil imports is lightened by increased production and decreased demand. (According to IHS CERA, this is due to higher fuel economy standards — about as close as this administration has gotten to environmental reforms — and an aging population.) However, the $70 billion and growing invested in 2010 to develop U.S. oil and gas belies a continuing long-term dependence on fossil fuels.
The shift from reliance on foreign fossil fuel sources to domestic ones is not all that stabilizing. We have now deigned to figuratively scrape oil and gas from the very bottom of the barrel. The reserves that have trumpeted this Great Revival, such as Marcellus shale gas, Alberta tar (oil) sands, Arctic oil and deep offshore oil, can only be tapped at steep costs to fossil fuel companies, ecosystems and people.
These unconventional fuels, or forms of extreme energy in the words of Hampshire College professor Michael T. Klare, require extraction methods which are unprecedentedly invasive and which use inordinate amounts of water and release toxic amounts of waste. Due to environmental and human health concerns, activists in America, Canada and around the world have mounted successful campaigns to delay hydrofracking in New York, the building of the Keystone XL to pipe tar sands to refineries and drilling in the Arctic by Shell. The Great Revival is unquestionably beset with practical and ethical uncertainties which companies, policymakers and consumers must wrangle with.
I am one of those voters who is more concerned with environmental consequences than with fuel supply, and I don’t harbor any illusion that my camp is necessarily on higher moral ground. I would say that we are uninterested in business as usual, which is what further development of fossil fuels would maintain, at best. Sandra Steingraber writes in Living Downstream, a book about the environmental causes of cancer, of “the unimaginative way things are.” She attacks the unremitting momentum of petrochemical development (for fuel, for industrial products and for consumer goods) in the face of undeniable evidence tying the industry to environmental and human health problems.
For the U.S. to rejoice in further oil and gas exploitation, not as a crutch for advancing toward a truly energy independent future, but as an insistence on squeezing out every murky drop of oil and undisturbed pocket of gas is to be deeply unimaginative.
When we talk about increasing energy efficiency at Cornell without talking about reducing overall energy use, and when we talk about cutting dependency on foreign fuels without talking about building capacity for new domestic energy sources, we fall short on thinking through the full spate of practical and ethical considerations.
Jing Jin is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ringing True appears alternate Mondays this semester.
The company said the move will help its customers to lead a more sustainable life and lower their energy bill. Ikea experts have reckoned that each LED luminaire saves its operator 5,30 euros per year. The LEDs will be sold at the lowest possible price.
At the same time, the company will replace all entire in-shop lighting systems – more than a million light sources in its shops around the globe – to LEDs and “other energy efficient light sources”. An Ikea spokesperson said that the company will use quality as one of the principal criteria for its purchase. “We want to avoid that buyers return their products to us,” she said. The LED product spectrum offered at Ikea stores will be identical around the world. For this reason, each product will have to meet all legal and technical standards.
“LED revolutionizes lighting”, said Ikea Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard. “We believe that everyone should be able to afford a sustainable way of living”.
Nature conservation organisation WWF hailed Ikea’s move. “Our goal is that in the future only renewable energies will be used. In order to remove our dependence from fossil fuels we need to exploit all possibilities. Almost 20% of the global energy consumption is associated to lighting. For this reason, the changeover towards LED technology is a cost-effective means to change things. Ikea’s shift towards LEDs will greatly affect the private energy consumption throughout the world,” said Samantha Smith, head of WWF’s global energy and climate initiative.
- IKEA Announces That it Will Sell Only LED Lighting By 2016 (inhabitat.com)
- Ikea Plans to Sell Only LED Lights Worldwide to Cut Emissions (bloomberg.com)
Calling all Veterans and Military Families to expand your vision and create NEW and effective ways to mitigate energy consumption.
We have yet to scratch the surface of the brilliance in our Children, Adults and Seniors. Get busy, time is indeed running out.
Submit ideas at the link above. Honoring all environmental Stewards…