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It Cost ‘$5,000 to Change a Light Bulb’ at University of Illinois

October 14, 2013 By Linda Hardesty

Energy ManageBuilding Energy Experts just completed an LED lighting and control retrofit of the 18,000-sq-ft Student Recreation Facility for The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The project will save the building an estimated $20,000 per year in energy costs as well as extraordinary savings in reduced labor costs.

The building’s unique architectural details made the project very challenging because the lobby ceiling fixtures are 75 feet up, requiring a specialized man lift at a rental cost of $5,000.00 per day.

“Basically, it cost $5,000.00 each time we had to change a light bulb,” said Nate Scott, associate director at the school.

UIC chose to replace the current lighting with LED lighting, which is now consuming almost 75 percent less energy, says Building Energy Experts.

The indoor multi activity court (MAC), fitness/weight room floor areas and racquetball courts were also retrofitted with energy efficient LED fixtures, which last 100,000 hours versus 20,000 hours of the previous system. The lighting fixtures were integrated into a daylight and occupancy controls system, which can be controlled with an app on a dedicated Apple device. The light levels have the capability to be adjusted manually according to the scheduling of each area.

A portion of this Project was funded by an Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant made available to various state facilities for building efficiency upgrades. With incentives, UIC’s return on investment will be less than one year in energy savings alone.

UIC recently announced it had signed a $63.6 million energy savings performance contract (ESPC) with Ameresco, which is expected to save the University more than $1.8 million in avoided energy costs annually for the 20 year term, and includes energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades to UIC’s Science and Engineering Laboratories Complex, consisting of four teaching and laboratory buildings and a supporting office building, totaling more than 1.2 million square feet.



5 comments on “It Cost ‘$5,000 to Change a Light Bulb’ at University of Illinois

  1. A $63.6 million investment for a $1.8 million annual savings is a HORRIBLE return on investment. That’s a 35 year payback! Somebody’s relative must own the company.

  2. ESPC projects like this often involve more than the energy savings. The savings from ‘$ 5,000′ daily lift rentals is not totaled, but sounds substantial. The labor savings from lamp changes is also not tallied. The project included infrastructure upgrades, projects desired for other than energy savings reasons. Also, the project probably replaced a lot of aging equipment that had to be done, even though nominal energy savings was involved. Finally, the overall project cost may include ongoing maintenance and verification services to ensure the project achieves the savings guaranteed by the project.

  3. Ralph, Jim’s point is Operating Expenses (OpEx) Avoided. Simply put it’s not just the kWH reduction but the avoided costs of labor and materials that won’t be spent to maintain the building’s operations. The other big saving here is the demand charge, which in many cases is more than the kWH charges.

  4. LED service life is usually 50,000 hours (L70)
    How did they get 100,000 hours?
    It is possible but is this claim based on “real” engineering?
    Don

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