Here at UNF, the goal to become more energy efficient and environmentally friendly is always a top priority. Over the past few years, the university has been switching to LED lighting to improve energy efficiency and operating costs.
According to Dr. Wallace Harris, associate director for Physical Facilities, the university has already replaced lighting along all streets and parking lots on campus with LEDs, as well as six buildings on campus (buildings 15, 14E, 58, 5, 6, and 4). It will take roughly three years to retrofit the entire campus to LED lighting.
We all know LED lighting is a better alternative than traditional fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs, but why? They are allegedly better for the environment, but what exactly is it about LED lighting that makes it a better alternative?
LED stands for light-emitting diode, which is essentially a fancy way of saying a light bulb, or a light source that emits light when a current flows through it. LED lighting can be compared to incandescent, or more traditional, lighting in three ways in which it is a better alternative: energy efficiency, heat emissions and lifespan.
LED lights are more efficient than traditional lighting because they use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. One of the reasons incandescent bulbs are less energy efficient compared to LEDs is because roughly 90% of the energy incandescent bulbs consumer is turned into heat and the remaining 10% is what is converted into light. Whereas, LED bulbs emit little to almost no heat, using a majority of the energy they consume into producing light. This not only makes LEDs more efficient, but also safer to use as well. 1Energy.gov, LED Lighting
LED light bulbs have a lifespan that is 2-4 times longer than fluorescent bulbs, with an average LED lasting around 50,000 to 100,000 operating hours. The longer lifespan means there is less need for replacements which reduces waste and lowers maintenance costs.
While LEDs sound perfect there are drawbacks. LEDs are significantly brighter than traditional lighting, which has increased light pollution globally by 2%. However, LEDs are being developed in ways that can reduce illumination levels through dimmers, motion sensors, and timers, which also contribute to their reduced energy consumption.
Thank you to Wallace Harris and Victoria Hughes for meeting and discussing the LED transition project and thank you to Physical Facilities for everything they do in keeping our campus well maintained.
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Catherine Selin is a junior studying Coastal Environmental Science and International Studies. As well as working at the Environmental Center, she is an environmental educator at Eco Adventure on campus, president of the UNF Dive Club, and treasurer of the Marine Biology Club. In her free time she enjoys paddle boarding, scuba diving, and hiking. When she graduates she hopes to work in environmental management and help protect coastal ecosystems.