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Shedding Light on Energy Efficiency

Two recent projects have taken lighting at UMass Chan Medical School to new levels of efficiency. Part of ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption across campus, these initiatives involving the First Road parking garage and the Medical School’s new Integrated Teaching and Learning Center (iTLC) are projected to save nearly $22,000 a year in future electricity costs. 

In an exciting blend of design and state-of-the-art technology, the iTLC, which opened in August on the second floor of the Medical School, provides optimal lighting conditions for the 5,000 square-foot space in the most efficient way. According to Matthew Stelmach, UMass Chan senior electrical project manager, a combination of high efficiency indirect fluorescent lighting (which minimizes glare on computer screens and video projections), LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures around the room’s perimeter, as well as occupancy sensors and a sophisticated dimming system, make the iTLC a “very, very efficient lighting system.” 

A $3,720 rebate from National Grid for the iTLC project brought the cost of the LED units below the price of dimmable compact fluorescent fixtures, Stelmach said. Furthermore, not only are LED fixtures more efficient, they last longer. Each of the 66 LED fixtures will provide about 50,000 hours of lamp life, compared with 12,000 hours for fluorescent lamps, further extending the cost savings.“We’re expecting to have these lamps for a long time,” Stelmach said, estimating that annual electricity costs for the iTLC will be about $700 less than standard lighting. 

Significant energy savings for the Medical School will also be realized in the total lighting retrofit of the 22-year old First Road parking garage. Completed in April after a year-long, two-phase process, the project involved replacing 100 watt, high-pressure, sodium bulbs throughout the building with energy-efficient fluorescent fixtures. 

According to Robert Lagana, the UMass Chan senior electrical project manager in charge of the retrofit, the new lighting is expected to save $21,000 in energy costs per year. Moreover, the overall project budget was reduced by $29,350 as a result of rebates from National Grid. 

The parking garage lighting retrofit was its second since the structure was built in 1988. Ten years ago, the lighting system was upgraded from the original 175 watt, metal halide bulbs. With new fluorescent lighting using just a fraction of the electricity required for conventional bulbs, the sustainable solution will help reduce the campus’s carbon footprint while saving money. “We’re always looking for ways to cut our electricity costs, and the savings in this case were too large to ignore,” Lagana said. 

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