BU intern to research energy-saving solutions for campus lighting

By Amanda Tolentino


Changing light bulbs every few months can be a hassle. Using light emitting diodes (LEDs) can decrease the number of light bulb changes, because LEDs have a longer lifespan compared to traditional lighting.

This fall, Baylor Facilities will hire an intern to determine the most cost- and energy-efficient lighting for campus.

“Baylor Facilities will be hiring an intern this fall to work on a campus lighting survey to test various LED and fluorescent lighting technologies,” Clare Paul, marketing manager for Baylor Facilities, said, although Baylor does not currently have much LED lighting on campus.

After the intern conducts the survey, Baylor Facilities will be able to better provide suggestions for which technologies best suit the university’s needs.

Kristina Holcomb, project manager at Pruf LED, an LED manufacturing and distributing company located in Robinson, said LED lights are in use already to line the walkway leading from Pat Neff to the Judge Baylor statue, and LED lights will soon be installed for the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core offices in Morrison Hall.

According to the Utilities and Energy Management website, Baylor spends more than $9.5 million a year on electricity and replaces more than 25,000 light bulbs a year.

Baylor has the potential to save at least 50 percent more energy a month by transitioning to LED lights, Holcomb said.

The Washington Daily News previously reported that Baylor has been using the LED lighting system the longest of Texas universities. Baylor has partnered with Pruf LED which provides the bulbs the university uses.

Holcomb said the partnership was first initiated to lower maintenance savings to decrease the number of light replacements, and the energy savings were an added benefit.

“While there is currently a more upfront cost for LEDs, take into consideration that you are not going to have to replace the light in five to 15 years, depending on how often the light is used,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said because Pruf LED provides a small number of LED lights on campus, it is difficult to gauge Baylor’s percentage of energy savings.

Atlanta, senior Brittany Price, an intern with the Office of Sustainability, said an incandescent light heats up enough so that it will glow, but most of the energy used to heat up the bulb is wasted energy.

LED lights provide the opposite effect. “When using incandescent light bulbs, 80 to 90 percent of energy that you’re paying for, that is being put off is being used to heat the bulb, and the other percent is the actual light that you’re getting,” Price said.

Greg Klepper, founder and chairman of Pruf LED, said LED lighting is made up of electrical circuits used to create a solid state of lighting.

Klepper said on an efficiency scale, incandescent lighting emits the most heat with the lowest percentage of light. LEDs provide the opposite effect by emitting the most light and the least amount of heat.

LED lighting uses small, light-reflected particles that are able to reflect and give low energy but are still able to provide the same brightness as incandescent lighting. LED lighting also costs less.

“About 80 percent of the LED energy is put into lighting, and the other is used for heat,” Price said. “LED lights last a minimum of 50 times longer than incandescent lights.”

Price said well-designed LED lights utilize an absorption mechanism that reuses heat so that LED lighting does not get as hot as incandescent lighting.

Holcomb said LED lights have a heat sink within the bulb which dissipates heat away from the bulb.

Holcomb said a traditional bulb is hot to the touch because it does not draw heat away from itself.

Price said she and her roommates followed Baylor’s example by switching to LED lighting. “I lived off-campus my sophomore year, and the normal incandescent lights died a couple months later,” Price said. “We tried out energy efficient LED bulbs and didn’t have to change them for another year. We cut down costs by $15 a month.”