University of Kentucky Begins Transition to LED Lighting

The lighting pilot project will be launched in a UK parking structure.

According to the director of Parking and Transportation Services, Lance Broeking, a pilot project will begin next week to transition Parking Structure No. 2 on Rose Street to a new way of lighting. Initially it will cost the University of Kentucky (UK) about $250,000 but the transition would save the university thousands of dollars in the end. The $250,000 investment will be recouped in savings in about seven years, said Broeking, and subsequent to that, it should save UK about $29,000 annually.

Light-emitting diodes will replace the obsolete metal halide lights currently hanging in Parking Structure No. 2. No. 2’s annual electrical cost is at present about $36,000 but with the new 37-watt LEDs, that would drop to $7,000 – a very significant Return on Investment (ROI). “We’ve been talking about (the transition) for a number of years,” said Broeking. “We’ll start seeing recurring savings pretty quickly.”

The lights are kept on 24/7 at this particular parking structure, which is why it was chosen as the pilot project to test the LEDs. Calculating savings is easier when the energy input is a constant, he said. Campus safety was also a factor in the decision. “The lights will provide a more consistent lighting atmosphere which will provide a better perception of safety,” said Broeking. “Hopefully (it will be) promoting a safer environment.”

Maintenance expense will also realize a savings. The 175-watt halide lights currently have a lifespan of about 14,000 hours; compared with the estimated 100,000 hours the LEDs are to last, Broeking said. That is a seven-to-one ratio so to measure the savings accurately, the cost of labor must be factored in also.

The decreasing price of LED lights over the years has made the project feasible. “(A few years ago), the payoff time was longer than would give us comfort,” said Broeking. “We wanted to make sure we were investing in light fixtures from a company with a good reputation (also).”

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