Lighting Controls Help Moravian College Save Over $10K a Year in Energy Costs

Automated lighting, shading and sensors in recreational facilities translates to big ROI.

Colleges and universities are facing a slew of fiscal challenges at the moment, from declining enrollments to increasing operating costs. A way to scale back these costs that is often overlooked is to cut energy expenditures. Moravian College, a small, residential liberal-arts school in Bethlehem, Pa. recently cut energy costs by more than $10,000 by installing automated lighting and shading controls as well as occupancy sensors during an improvement project for the college’s recreational facilities.

Last year, the college updated its competition and recreational gyms, and added a 10,000-square-foot fitness center for faculty and students, as part of a strategy for recruiting. A key aspect of that process, however, was the inclusion of new lighting for the existing gyms, automated lighting and shade control for the fitness center, and unified lighting automation for the entire complex, all with the intent of both managing and quantifying energy costs and sustainability.

It worked. The school reports that the new lighting systems have already reduced the power consumption in the recreational gym by 83% and 71% in the competition gym. Overall, the system has cut total energy costs by more than $10,000 a year in these areas. On top of that, the college also received a $13,000 utility-company rebate for the energy-efficient lighting retrofit. This constitutes a huge and very immediate ROI on an initial investment of $111,000 for the technology systems in the two gyms and fitness center.

Photo Gallery: How Moravian College Saved $10K+ With Lighting Controls

Achieving ROI

Doug Plotts, director of Facilities Management at Moravian College, attributes attaining these savings to the Lutron lighting and control systems the school installed in the gymnastics and fitness building. Lutron, headquarted in nearby Coopersburg, has what Plotts calls a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the school, one in which the lighting systems maker has offered systems at a lowered cost to the school at times to use their facilities to demonstrate new products or to prove new applications of existing products and systems.

It also underscores how much lighting and lighting control can contribute to energy savings, particularly when it comes to energy usage from climate control systems. HVAC systems tend to get the primary focus in those cases, but Plotts says the heat- and light-sensing capability in the Lutron Quantum Total Light Management automation system used in the fitness center plays as important a role as HVAC.

“The system can raise and lower the shades facing the south part of the quad, and that directly affects the amount of light and heat in the facility, and it automatically adjusts for the season and the time of day,” he explains. Combined with an automated light dimming feature in the control system, Lutron’s own calculations indicate that the entire system delivered an additional 43% savings in lighting costs alone, compared to lighting without dimmers or shades.

In addition to an entirely new type of lighting technology — Lutron High Bay Athlite fixtures and digital fluorescent dimming ballasts replaced older, less-efficient high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting — the gyms also received sensing features that

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