Howard University Flips the Switch on Exterior LED Retrofit Project
By: Alyssa Danigelis

Howard University completed an exterior LED retrofit project to save money, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and improve safety on campus, the university announced.

The project received funding from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) and was completed by contractor GB Energie LED, an African-American, woman-owned business based in Washington, DC, that provides lighting for several sectors such as education, government, commercial, and industrial.

Established in 1867 and located in Northwest Washington, the historic university has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students with undergraduate, graduate, professional, and joint degree programs spanning numerous areas of study in 13 schools and colleges. Five years ago, Howard University formed a partnership with DCSEU for projects to reduce gas and electricity consumption on multiple campus buildings.

Those energy savings have resulted in more than $10.5 million in lifetime cost savings and prevented the lifetime emissions of 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide, according to the university.

The multi-phase exterior lighting project entailed GB Energie LED installing Revolution Lighting products throughout the campus. Those solutions are expected to reduce energy use from lighting by more than 50%, a July announcement about the project said.

Besides energy savings, the retrofit provides students, staff, and visitors a better sense of security while walking through campus at night, according to the university. “The plan has greatly illuminated various areas, which reduces the likelihood of unwanted individuals from lurking in wait without being detected,” Howard University campus police chief Alonzo Joy said in a press release. “This new lighting also elevates the quality of our students’ after-hours experience. In addition, the plan to use LED is a perfect match for our video surveillance system.”

Lighting is a key part of the billions of dollars that American higher education institutions spend on energy and utility annually, the DOE reports. Besides Howard University, a number of other universities and colleges around the country have been completing retrofits this year. They include Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and Belmont College in Ohio. Also this year, the University of Bridgeport installed a 1.4-megawatt fuel cell power plant on campus to make the university grid independent.

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