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LED Project Illuminates Campus, Saves Energy

Man installing light

The Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus is looking a lot brighter these days.

That’s because the campus has just swapped out nearly 2,000 fluorescent light fixtures for light-emitting diode technology, known commonly as LED lighting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED light bulbs “last longer, are more durable and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.”

LED lighting is considered highly energy efficient.

The Montgomery County Campus is deeply committed to the sustainability initiatives embraced by the university, including the effort to install efficient light fixtures that deliver the best quality light at the proper levels, while using less electricity.

Under the direction of former JHU President William R. Brody, the JHU Office of Sustainability was formed in 2006, and the President’s Task Force on Climate Change was formed the following year. The task force’s mission was to develop recommendations on how Johns Hopkins should lower greenhouse gas emissions. A goal was set to reduce emissions 51 percent from 2008 levels by 2025.

The project is expected to reduce electric use on the campus by more than 500,000 kilowatt per year.

A rebate from PEPCO reduced the direct costs of the budget and there will be ongoing budget savings.  According to estimates prepared by Commercial Retrofitters & Recyclers, the company doing the LED work at the Montgomery County Campus, the campus can expect to see a return on investment in nine months in Gilchrist Hall and 11 months in the A/R Building. Estimates forecast approximately $80,000 savings in energy costs in year one, $450,000 by year five and $900,000 by year 10. Additional savings of roughly $7,200 annually are projected in maintenance and labor costs.

Some of the LED material has a three-year warranty and could last five to seven years; other material has a five-year warranty and could last up to 10 years, said Jason Vercoe, vice president of operations for Commercial Retrofitters & Recyclers.

LEDs emit little heat and emit light in a specific direction, according to the Department of Energy.  Also, according to the Hopkins climate change task force report, LED lighting provides an opportunity to reduce energy in mechanical systems as well. Since LED emit less heat, air conditioning needs are reduced.

“The landscape of energy conservation and efficiency is continually evolving, and it’s important we stay up to date on opportunities across our campuses,” said Ashley Pennington, program manager for the JHU Office of Sustainability. “Our partners at MCC take this to heart, and we’re happy to see this LED retrofit project move forward.’’