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Saturday, October 23, 2021

UC Davis flips the switch on energy efficient lighting

UC Davis has turned on a new smart lighting initiative in order to reduce the amount of energy used around campus, leading other universities in following the state mandate of reducing energy use by 60 percent before 2020.

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) has been working to reduce energy use around campus through the use of lower wattage lighting and sensors that turn lights on or off depending on usage. The lighting center has worked with Public Interest Energy Research program of the California Energy Commission to develop these lighting options.

“It’s the combination of more energy efficient lights, things that you can turn off and on individually, and an occupancy sensor, so if you forget to turn it off it just goes off automatically,” said Kelly Cunningham, outreach director with CLTC.

According to the California Public Utilities commission, approximately 25 percent of electricity use is due to lighting. The California state mandate to reduce electricity use is focused on reducing green house gas emissions, which are detrimental to the environment.

“We are planning to save energy by turning the lights off or dimming them down when there is no one there or when there is available daylight,” said Konstantinos Papamichael, co-director of the CLTC and professor at UC Davis. “We think that those are the two most obvious important and effective ways of controlling electric light savings. The 60 percent initiative is aimed at not only using energy efficient lighting, but controlling them.”

The UC Davis Facilities Management team recently installed an example of the lighting developed at the lighting technology center in Mrak Hall. The lighting technology at Mrak focuses on individual desk lighting versus entire floor lighting. Thus, instead of turning on lights for the entire floor with a single switch, individuals can control the amount of lighting they need.

The lighting technology developed at UC Davis has also been installed at the California Motor Vehicles Department in Sacramento and other facilities across the state, such as the California Department of Public Health in Richmond and the National Guard Headquarters in Sacramento.

Smart lighting technology has also been installed in parking garages around campus. CLTC is looking to study these prototypes in order to assess the quality and use of the lights.

“The next step is to monitor and evaluate, and to make sure the system is working well. We’re curious to see if over time the motion sensing decreases the crime rates around the garages,” Cunningham said.

CLTC hopes to install smart lighting across campus in more offices, classrooms and student housing facilities in the near future, Cunningham said.

The smart lighting initiative at UC Davis will cost approximately $39 million. The California Statewide Energy Partnership Program will pay for $4 million of the project.

As the leading university in the smart lighting initiative, UC Davis serves as an example for other universities and facilities across the state, said Michael Siminovitch, director of CLTC and design professor, in a press release.

“We are innovating lighting in our own campus residences, offices, classrooms, laboratories, human and animal medical centers, wineries and breweries, parks, greenbelts, barns, and parking lots,” he said. “If you are trying to cut your carbon footprint and lighting costs, you can find help here.”

HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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