ASHEVILLE NC – Projected Annual Savings of $468,000 Will Pay Off Capital Costs in Seven Years. UNC Asheville is beginning a $3.2 million project to upgrade the majority of all indoor and exterior lighting on campus to energy-efficient LED fixtures. LED or light-emitting diode bulbs typically use between 30 and 40 percent less electricity than comparable alternatives. The project also will include installation of some linear fluorescent lamps and occupancy sensors that will automatically turn off lights in empty rooms. The upgrade, estimated to generate at least $468,000 in avoided energy costs per year, is expected to be completed by the end of May.
“This is a huge step forward in minimizing our carbon footprint,” said Sonia Marcus, UNC Asheville director of sustainability. “We will save about 5,000 megawatt-hours of energy per year, equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 475 homes. The cost savings are also tremendous. We expect to save nearly $79,000 a year in Ramsey Library alone.”
The LED fixtures are designed to meet brightness and color temperature requirements in a wide range of applications. All lighting levels will adhere to LEED® standards set by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES).
UNC Asheville’s effort is part of a University of North Carolina system-wide campaign to reduce the energy intensity of its facilities by 30 percent between 2002 and 2015. The lighting upgrade initiative is projected to save at least $3.5 million annually across 12 of the system’s campuses.
As part of this larger $26.5 million UNC system project, UNC Asheville will benefit from economies of scale in purchasing, contracting and financing. Utilities savings are guaranteed and will be used to pay back over seven years the $3.2 million debt UNC Asheville will incur to invest in the upgrade.
North Carolina-based Cree Inc. will supply the majority of LED fixtures used in the upgrade project, and installations will be performed by local firm MB Haynes Corporation. “This is a win-win-win for the environment, the state budget, and for the local economy,” said John Pierce, UNC Asheville vice chancellor for finance and campus operations. “We appreciate the help of the UNC system in making this possible.”