Campus Wide Lighting Retrofit

It’s debatable whether the most significant benefit of the university’s ongoing lighting retrofit is significantly reduced energy consumption or improved light quality.

There are two purposes for this project:

  1. Address the immediate impact of the change in lighting technology.  As of June 2010, T-12 magnetic ballasts will no longer be available making servicing or replacement of the current tube and ballast technology impossible.
  2.  Reduce electrical consumption, which will result in reduced utility costs and provide the primary funding source for this capital project.  Lighting in most campus facilities remains out of date and continues to consume unnecessarily large amounts of energy. The lighting retrofits are technologically straightforward to implement, have reasonably short pay-back periods and are easily integrated with other systems. 

Now nearing completion, the university’s efforts to replace outdated magnetic ballast light fixtures and T-12 lamps on campus with high-efficiency electronic ballasts and T-8 lamps have reduced energy consumption by an average of 23%. Some of the benefits of this are obvious—lower utility costs, fewer green house gas emissions—but the positive health benefits are less easily discernible.  However, studies indicate proven productivity gains, improved visual performance, improved eye movements in reading and reduced incidents of headache and eyestrain working under electronic ballasts versus the older magnetic ballasts. 

The new lights provide much better light quality. Simply stated, the light appears brighter, more like natural daylight. Studies suggest that work environments where the lighting appears more natural encourage a sense of wellbeing, improve alertness/productivity, and decrease absenteeism. Members of the campus community have consistently reported that better lighting levels is causing less eye strain and improving working conditions.

Also a significant consideration is the impact of the new lighting on the landfill and the environment. The new electronic ballasts and lamps are more efficiently and economically recycled or rendered suitable for disposal or reuse, and the raw components are less volatile and toxic.