University of North Carolina plans transition to LED lighting

The University of North Carolina (UNC) board of governors has approved a broad program focused on saving energy that will include major lighting retrofits at 13 campuses within the UNC system, targeted at generating $25 million in savings over seven years. The agreement will focus on replacement of 100,000 lighting fixtures with solid-state lighting (SSL) products and Cree Lighting will initially supply LED fixtures to the campuses while Johnson Controls is expected to supply building- and lighting-control systems.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory was a key supporter of the program. "This system-wide effort represents the kind of cooperation among different state agencies that means savings for taxpayers, business for North Carolina companies, and allows these UNC institutions to focus public dollars on the core mission of educating students and continuing groundbreaking research," said McCrory. "This action by President Tom Ross and the Board of Governors shows just how beneficial it is to tear down institutional silos and cooperate for more effective and efficient results."

Johnson Controls conducted an energy audit in partnership with UNC. That audit identified lighting and controls as key areas that could help the university system meet its energy-conservation goals. The state-wide goal for energy consumption is 30% by 2015 relative to 2002–2003 levels. UNC has tapped Johnson Controls to oversee the program and identified Cree as a major subcontractor — the only lighting supplier identified when the governor's office issued a press release on the project.

"This University-wide lighting project will help advance our energy reduction goals, lower maintenance expenses and improve ROI," said Miriam Tripp, special projects officer at UNC General Administration. "Reducing energy consumption is the right thing to do for our environment, our students, and the taxpayers who support us. Ultimately, the related cost savings enable UNC institutions to focus on our core mission of great teaching and research."

The project will include lighting installed in classrooms, dormitories, and other university facilities. The participating institutions include: Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, UNC Asheville, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC School of the Arts, Western Carolina University, Winston-Salem State University, UNC General Administration, UNC Center for Public Television, North Carolina Arboretum, and North Carolina Department of Commerce Energy Office. The four state institutions not on the list already have similar lighting retrofit programs in place.

Cree expects to supply a number of different SSL products to the UNC system. Specifically, the company said that it expects the CR24 LED troffers with TrueWhite technology delivering 90 CRI to be widely used.

"This lighting initiative is a natural extension of UNC's ongoing efforts to operate more efficiently and effectively," said Tom Ross, president of the UNC Board of Governors. "It is another step toward more shared services, more pooled purchasing, and greater collaboration as a way of doing business. We're making our campuses more energy efficient and sustainable, while creating an environment that's more conducive to learning and safety."

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