Recently school use of LED lighting has been the subject of conversation for school officials and policymakers who hope to cash in on the cost savings and other benefits of using LED. Even though this topic is popular now, educational institutions have slowly and quietly been moving to LED lighting for several years with a great reception from teachers, students and administrators.
A long time ago, way back in 2009, an elementary school in Minnesota decided that they were fed up with the dingy, inefficient high bay lighting in their gymnasium. The 400-watt, high-pressure sodium bulbs that currently hung in the gym were dim and cast an eerie glow. They took forever to start when turned on and were costing a small fortune to use. School officials decided that it was time for a big change and decided to replace the hps lights with 100 watt LED lights.
The new LED lights were an instant success. Instead of a greenish gloom, the gym was now glowing with bright daylight white. Light levels went from 10 to 25 candlepower to 37 to 42 candlepower in the gymnasium. And the financial savings were fantastic, with a 5-year warranty, maintenance costs are reduced to almost nothing while lighting costs were reduced almost 75 percent for a total of nearly $9,000 a year. One cannot forget, either, the 35,000 pound per year reduction in the school’s carbon footprint. This project seemed to shine light on the ways that LED lighting can benefit schools and so, as things go, other institutions soon began to join in the movement and switch to LED lighting too.
Durham Academy, a private school in Durham, North Carolina, replaced the T12 florescent lighting in their computer labs in 2011 and couldn’t be happier with the results. They are so happy, in fact, they joke about it. Teacher, Julian Cochran says, “I certainly joked with our maintenance staff that, they’re going to be out of a job once you guys (Cree Lighting Solutions) replace the lights in here because they won’t need to be replaced ever again.” Of course, they will eventually need to be replaced, but they are expected to last long enough for current elementary students to sit under these same lights when they are in high school.
Upper school Director, Lee Hark, is happy about the way it will affect the way the maintenance crew works, “The lifespan of these lights is going to allow our maintenance crew to be freed up to do other things. Things they need to be doing instead of changing light bulbs.” He is also thrilled about the positive effect they have on the environment. “One of the biggest things we are looking forward to is decreasing our energy footprint. Stewardship of the environment is something that is very important to our students and faculty, and this gives us the opportunity to make a serious dent in our energy usage.”
Then in 2012, the Dallas County School District made a fateful decision to replace lighting in the transportation services parking lot with LED lights. The project was so successful that they eventually outfitted each of the Dallas County Schools parking lots with LED lighting. It has been estimated that the project will save the school district and taxpayers 505,000 kWh per year in energy use and with the added reliability and resulting reduced maintenance costs, the county expects to save $363,600 over the life of the new LED system. Superintended Rick Sorrells has this to say: “As an integral member of the Dallas business community, DCS recognizes the need to operate in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.”
Not everyone is always happy about the changes that LED lights can make in a school. In February 2012, the Principal of Maplewood Elementary School in Ocala, Florida received a complaint from fifth grade student, Abby Owens, “What are you trying to do, keep us awake?”
The school had just completed a project to replace nearly 4,000 T12 florescent bulbs with LED light tubes and classrooms were now up to 30 percent brighter than before, and cutting in on the students’ snooze time. Regardless of how offended the students may be, teachers are enjoying the new lights. Beth Hipke says, “It’s much more like natural light.” And Principal Dobbins says that the LED lights may help special needs and autistic children to have a better day at school because they do not flicker or buzz, which seems to annoy and disturb some of them, “We can’t hear it or see it, but they can.”
In addition to keeping the students awake and content, the new LED lights should be favorably received by the community too. The $289,000 project is expected to save the school $25,000 a year on electricity costs and last 10 years before the bulbs may need to be replaced.
Brian Newman, G4 Report.