Energy Conservation Month Highlight: Lighting Retrofits

Increasing the efficiency of aging lighting around campus can make a big difference in reducing our university-wide GHG emissions.

University Lighting Retrofits

The university has been conducting a lighting retrofit around campus to replace aging fixtures with new, energy-efficient lighting solutions.

According to the University of Saskatchewan’s 2014 Greenhouse Gas Inventory, electricity usage on campus accounts for around 55% of our annual GHG emissions. Included in this scope is lighting on campus, which injects a great deal of variability into our efforts to conserve energy. Lighting varies greatly from building to building: the number of fixtures, differences in usage habits, special lighting requirements, and the age of lighting fixtures are just some of the ways it is hard to control and standardize electricity usage for lighting.

From 2007 – 2013 the university underwent the first phase of a major retrofit that sought to remedy some of these issues. An audit was conducted to identify ideal candidates for replacement, and fluorescent fixtures and exit signs were chosen for the first round of retrofits. All magnetic ballast light fixtures (T-12) were replaced with high-efficiency electronic ballasts, and the move to T-8 lamps have since reduced lighting energy consumption by an average of 23%. The changes were seen in offices, lecture theaters, meeting rooms, and many more common areas around campus, demonstrating that installing more efficient lighting can produce measurable results with little to no impact on day-to-day operations.

Phase 2 of this retrofit is still underway and will seek to expand on the initial audit to replace troublesome areas. Retrofits for outdoor lighting on campus are part of a collaborative effort between many departments to identify an LED solution that will keep new capital costs to a minimum, maintain safe lighting coverage, and drastically lower outdoor energy usage. Some fixtures that are difficult to maintain, such as those located above pools or at the PAC gym, need to undergo a more complicated replacement process. Many of these areas have been chosen as candidates to receive funding from the Campus Sustainability Revolving Fund, which will return the resulting energy cost savings into the Fund for future projects.

In an institution as old as the University of Saskatchewan that covers a large amount of diverse infrastructure, taking the variability out of lighting-related energy consumption can be a very complicated process. With the success of phase 1 of the university’s lighting retrofit, many aspects of phase 2 currently underway, and options for further improvements such as installing sensor automation, we may soon be able to experience uniformly efficient lighting across campus that will make a noticeable dent in our GHG emissions. An efficiently lit campus is a healthy campus!

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