Energy savings can be as easy as changing a light bulb

Beyond the Curb


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Energy consumption is on the rise. Projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that “the world-wide energy consumption will on average continue to increase by 2 percent per year.”

According to EPA, because approximately 67 percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels (mostly coal and natural gas), electricity production generates the largest share (29 percent in 2015) of greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer. The longer they stay in the atmosphere, the higher their impact on long-term temperatures we experience on Earth and the greater threat they pose to a balanced environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is such a greenhouse gas that remains in the atmosphere for a very long time.

Since energy production is a major generator of CO2 emission, lowering energy consumption will be paramount for the health of our planet and the future of our younger generation.

One simple way of reducing energy consumption is by using LED lights.

The U.S. Dept. of Energy states that “light-emitting diode (LED) is one of today's most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies. [It] uses at least 75 percent less energy, is much cooler, and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.”

Knowing that, the Brevard Public Schools Energy/Resource Conservation Department launched a project to replace existing BPS lighting systems district wide with LED lighting with the goal of increasing efficiency and reducing both energy and maintenance costs.

The two-phased plan as described by Joseph Montemurno, an energy/resource conservation department specialist, will save BPS between $500,000 and 600,000 or more a year.

“Phase 1 will replace our most predominant lighting — approximately 250,000-plus 4-foot tubular lamps. Phase 2 will address our high and predominate outside lighting, converting the existing fixtures to LED to achieve an approximate 50 percent plus energy savings.”

With those changes, BPS expects not only to have an impact on energy costs but also on helping “lower performing elementary schools to support improving their learning environment.”

“With stretched custodial resources in those schools,” adds Energy/Resource Conservation Manager Bruce Lindsay, “custodians are very excited about the 70,000-hour light bulbs. It means that they will never have to replace a bulb again before they retire!”

The project, scheduled to start this March with early adopters Southwest Middle School, Eau Gallie High School and Space Coast Junior/Senior High School, should be completed in about five years and has an estimated simple payback of less than five years.

“Brevard Schools consume $11.3 million in electricity each year — 60 percent for air conditioning, 25 percent for lighting and 15 percent for plug loads. At the end of the five-year project, we should be shaving $2 million from our electric bill,” forecasts Lindsay.

And more savings are anticipated with what is planned for the lamps that will be removed.

“During phase 1, we will be removing 250,000-plus mostly functional T8 fluorescent lamps and stocking them in our warehouse where they will be available for free to our schools that have not yet been retrofitted to LED. Thus, schools will save money by not having to purchase additional T8 fluorescent lamps prior to their switch over to LEDs. BPS plans to auction off any of the removed T8 fluorescent lamps that we are unable to store or that remain at the end of the project to avoid the cost of material disposal,” shared Montemurno.

This is an incredible initiative and the perfect example of the kind of impact that using LED lighting might have on energy consumption and savings. This project sheds a light on how positive this type of change might be and it is an inspiration for anyone to start converting their system, too.

LED bulbs might be a bit expensive, but in the long run they are better for the environment and will translate into much lower running costs. If you are looking for an impactful Earth Day project to start at home, this will be the perfect one!

Email Marcia Booth at Marcia@3RsAndBeyond.org