Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is internationally recognized for academic leadership in business, computing, engineering, imaging science, liberal arts, sustainability, and fine and applied arts. In addition, the university offers unparalleled support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. RIT enrolls nearly 18,000 full- and part-time students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. The campus occupies 1,300 acres in suburban Rochester, the third-largest city in New York state.
With such a large physical campus with dozens of buildings that are open virtually 24/7/365, RIT has made a commitment to sustainability in an effort to reduce the university’s operational costs and carbon footprint. Amongst the many initiatives implemented to help achieve these goals, RIT’s Utilities and Environmental Management Department earmarked campus lighting as a primary area that could help them achieve these goals.
With the increasing acceptance of LED lighting for mainstream lighting applications, RIT’s Utilities and Environmental Management Department conducted extensive research to determine where LED lighting could be integrated on campus to meet their goals, and what product(s) were available to meet their objectives. What they determined was that the replacement of their conventional fluorescent lighting with LED T8 lamps would yield the fastest and largest returns given the proliferation of fluorescent lighting present on campus.
In addition to the savings achieved from a reduction in electricity consumption, RIT’s staff also evaluated the life expectancies and failure rates of LED lamps versus conventional fluorescent lighting. They found that LED lighting has a life expectancy of approximately 50,000 hours with failure rates typically below 1%. Conversely, florescent lamps have a life expectancy of approximately 20,000 hours with a failure rate of approximately 50% over their rated life. This presents a few critical implications: LED lamps last more than twice as long as fluorescent tube lamps which significantly reduces their total cost of ownership; LED lamps are more reliable reducing maintenance costs; and LED T8 lamps retain their color and quality over their life expectancy whereas fluorescent lamps change color with age making light control all but impossible.
RIT’s Utilities and Environmental Management Department also discovered that the specific LED lamps they needed to yield the highest returns simply didn’t exist.
To meet established requirements for power consumption, color temperature and longevity, Trans-Lux custom designed LED T8 lamps specifically for RIT. Trans-Lux initially found that their 16 watt lamps and their 18 watt lamps were not the right fit for RIT. The 16 watt lamp didn’t have enough light output and the 18 watt lamp had too much. The product that Trans- Lux custom-built for RIT is 16.3 watts – the first of its kind in the industry.
RIT began retrofitting fluorescent fixtures with custom-designed Trans-Lux LED lamps in December 2011, and over the course of one year, more than 20,000 lamps were installed in labs, classrooms and hallways. The initial replacement of linear fluorescent lamps with energy efficient Trans-Lux TL Energy LED lighting is estimated to have saved the University more than $300,000 in energy and maintenance costs in the first year alone. The savings are projected to go even higher with the continued deployment of TL Energy LED lighting moving forward.
According to David Harris, Director, Utilities and Environmental Management at RIT, “Upgrading to the new LED lamps was easy and only took about eight minutes per fixture. In our library we installed 2,800 of the LED lamps and we did it in the evening when the number of patrons was reduced and we wouldn’t be in the way. We did most of our academic buildings in the evening hours for the same reason.”
He continues, “Many of the circuits on campus are on 24/7 and even in the library the lights are on 20 hours a day. The LEDs last twice as long as their counterpart fluorescent and we do not have to change lamps as often. Even our cooling costs are reduced. It’s a great opportunity for electrical and operational savings using the Trans-Lux LED lamps. We are anticipating saving about $300,000 dollars on the 20,000 lamps we have installed so far.”
Comments about and reaction to the new LED lighting have also been very positive according to Dr. Bill Destler, RIT President. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the reactions we’ve had and the actual results we’re getting from the installations. I expected to have at least some issues relating to the quality of lighting or the light spectrum but there’s been none. In fact, it’s exceeded my expectations.”
“RIT is an ideal place to go a little outside the box and look at alternative ways of doing things and Trans-Lux has been a great partner for us in this venture,” said Dr. Bill Destler, RIT President. “With Trans-Lux as our partner, we have been able to implement an extremely efficient solution for campus lighting that reduces both the University’s carbon footprint and operational expenses. We’re pleased with the partnership and with the product, and that’s really what we expect to be when we interact with any corporation.”