LED Lighting Increases Safety
A recent article published in Kent State’s student-run newspaper, The Kent Stater, outlined the highlights of their annual safety walk along with their campus-wide LED lighting improvements. The purpose of the walk is to allow stakeholders, who don’t typically walk the same paths as the students that live on campus, to view safety concerns from the students’ perspectives. In the past, the safety walk had to be performed twice a year due to many broken or underperforming lights.
Brewer-Garrett’s Senior Lighting Specialist, Steve Marshall, participated in this year’s safety walk. Having worked as the lighting designer on the first phase of Kent State’s energy conservation project, Steve has a good understanding as to how the lights should be functioning. As the walk progressed and problem areas were identified, Steve was able to use his expertise to make recommendations for any necessary upgrades.
After the walk, Kent State’s Project Manager, Bob Misbrener, was quoted as saying “Last year and prior years there have been a lot more lights out…It’s a mere fraction of what it was before”.
The drastic improvement from last year to this year has to do with the investment that Kent State made in their energy conservation project. Part of the project, which was completed in 2015, focused on retrofitting the old single bulb lights with LED lights. The LED upgrades offer a variety of benefits for the University. Aside from the fact that the LEDs last much longer than single-bulbs (LEDs are rated to 100,000 hours or 22+ years while the original single-bulb lights only last an average of 19,000 hours or around 4 years), and increase energy savings (77% electric energy savings in this case), they also greatly improve safety.
Bob Misbrener commented on the improved security from the LEDs and was quoted as saying, “The parking lots are lit to a level of security that we did not have before,” Misbrener said. “The spread of the LED gets the lights to all the corners and all the areas of the parking lots versus the older lights that had a big blob of light”. Additionally, the safety phone lights were upgraded and are much easier for users and safety forces to see.
Kent State’s energy conservation project has led to a dramatic improvement of campus safety, an increase in lighting levels, and an increase in savings on utilities. The investment in this project, along with the dedication of their staff to put on an annual safety walk, clearly demonstrates Kent State’s commitment to the safety and well-being of their students.
Energy Efficiency as an Energy Resource
Efficiency is not something that the majority of people would associate with being an energy resource. Instead, we tend to think of tangible items such as gas, coal, water, and sunlight as energy resources. It is often difficult for people to include efficiency in this list not only because it is not a tangible item, but because it does not directly provide energy. Although it doesn’t directly provide energy, it does reduce energy demand and prevents energy from being wasted. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) defines efficiency, in regards to energy, as “an energy resource capable of yielding energy and demand savings that can displace electricity generation from coal, natural gas, nuclear power, wind power, and other supply-side resources” . Essentially, efficiency allows to you receive the same performance while saving money and using fewer resources.
To put the dramatic impact that energy efficiency has as a resource into perspective, the Alliance to Save Energy stated that, “we saved 57 quads in 2012 due to energy efficiency and conservation efforts taken since 1973. This is more energy than we get from any single energy source, including oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power” . The Alliance went on to estimate that, “if we tried to run today’s economy without the energy-efficiency improvements that have taken place since 1973, we would need about 60 percent more energy supplies than we use now” . These statistics make it clear that conservation efforts, including energy efficiency measures, have made an impactful difference on energy demand.
A multitude of benefits are also the direct result of energy efficiency measures. Greenhouse gas reduction, for example, is good for the environment as it helps preserve our natural resources and cuts down on pollution which positively impacts our environment along with our health. These measures also save people money by decreasing energy demand which results in lower utility bills. Finally, these measures help improve the economy by saving billions of dollars a year in avoided energy costs and creating a plethora of new jobs.
With world energy consumption projected to grow 48% by 2040  and our natural resources being rapidly depleted, it is clear that energy efficiency, in conjunction with renewable resources, will play a vital role in determining the sustainability of our world. Efficiency measures have already made a positive impact on our world, but they still need to be expanded. Starting to view energy efficiency as a resource is a great way to show people creative ways to make a difference and invest in our future.
By: Brian Hyland
Net Zero Energy Buildings
A growing number of companies are looking to reduce their environmental footprints. Realizing the negative impacts that the burning of fossil fuels, and their current consumption patterns, has on the environment often leads people to conclude that drastic changes need to be made. One change that a growing number of people are looking towards is implementing net zero energy buildings (NZEBs). The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) defines net zero energy buildings as “a building in which energy demand is greatly reduced through efficiency gains, and the remaining energy needs are satisfied using renewable energy” . Essentially, these buildings create a synergy between energy efficiency and renewable energy to increase their cost effectiveness.
The most common energy efficiency measures used in NZEBs, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, include “advanced insulation, reduced thermal bridging, air tightness, use of the thermal mass, daylighting and ventilation strategies, and energy-efficient lighting and appliance” . These measures aim to decrease the overall energy demand of the building. This, in and of itself, will decrease energy usage and save money on utilities. Additionally, these measures will help decrease the company’s environmental footprint. This fact is backed by a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy which stated, “energy efficiency has eliminated the need for 313 new power plants since 1990 and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 490 million tons last year” .
When the building is operating efficiently and the energy demands are lowered, companies are able to add additional cost savings by reducing the size and capacity of the renewable energy system that they need. The energy efficiency measures work to save companies enough money to make investing in renewable energy systems a financially plausible option.
By continuing to invest in and pursue energy efficiency programs we are continuing to work towards reducing energy demands which, in turn, reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time, these programs help to facilitate growth in the renewable energy field by making it more affordable and more realistic for companies compared to renewable energy systems by themselves.
By: Brian Hyland