In an effort to cut back on energy consumption, Appalachian State University is in the process of replacing all the lighting on campus with LED lights.
Appalachian State began the process by replacing the lights in Plemmons Student Union five years ago and finished the union conversion in September.
Jeff Cathey, head of student programs, said minimal work was done in September, with most of the installation already having been completed.
“We just had a couple places here and there [without LED lighting],” Cathey said.
Jerry Marshall, the engineer at the physical plant, said the results seen by incorporating LED lights into the student union led to an effort to replace all the lighting on campus with LED lights.
“The student union was the first place we started putting LED lights,” Marshall said. “As a result of that, once people started getting on board, we began putting LED’s all over campus.”
Now, numerous buildings on campus are lit 100 percent with LED lights, including Belk Residence Hall, Anne Belk Hall, Kidd Brewer Stadium, the steam plant, Owens Field House and Legends. In addition to the facilities that have been fully converted, all the lighting in campus parking lots are lit with LED lighting.
“We were spending about 7,000 kilowatt hours per month pretty consistently [with the streetlights],” Marshall said. “Then we installed our LED lighting, and now we’re using about 2,000 kilowatt hours per month.”
The success of installing LED lights in the parking lots made Appalachian State a model that other schools began to copy, Marshall said.
“The parking lot project was so successful that all over North Carolina, at our sister institutions, they heard about the dramatic effect it had,” Marshall said. “When they heard about what was going on, they said, ‘We need to be doing this all over the state.’”
Appalachian State hired Pepco to install the LED lighting on campus. As part of a performance contract, Pepco installs the lights and then the university pays them with the savings made from using LED lights for the next seven years.
Lee Ball, the director of university sustainability, said performance contracts like this one are ideal for institutions like Appalachian State.
“Performance contracts are really great for institutions that don’t want to use their own capital,” Ball said. “And it really benefits us in the long run because, even though we’re paying them back for seven years, these fixtures will probably last 40 years.”
Cathey said he believes Appalachian State’s efforts to convert to LED lighting is a testament to the school’s commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.
“This marks an exciting opportunity to do something that’s good for the environment,” Cathey said. “We’re building a model of how a sustainable building can function and it represents what a lot of people here at Appalachian State value.”
Story by Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter