Anyone who has been in TCW recently will notice that classrooms, offices, and hallways are starting to seem to be brighter. In fact, they are. We have embarked on a six-week process to replace all the lighting at TCW with more energy-efficient LED lights.
The impetus for the change emerged from our desire to optimize parents’ tuition dollars and steward natural resources better. The benefits of the change are tangible. First, LED lights last longer. They have an expected lifespan of 100,000 hours, which is 11 years of continuous operation or 22 years of 50% operation. Greater longevity means less maintenance, which reduces expenses. As the operational life of the bulbs increase, the work involved to purchase, stock and change conventional light bulbs is dramatically reduced.
The second benefit is an energy efficiency of 80-90% when compared to traditional lighting. Third, LED lights are free of toxic chemicals. Most conventional fluorescent lighting bulbs contain a multitude of materials (e.g mercury) that are dangerous for the environment. LED lights are 100% recyclable, and will help reduce our carbon footprint by up to a third. Finally, LED lights provide a more comfortable light, helping students and staff see better with less glare and eye strain. They make for a brighter day.
Students have noticed the change. Grade 12 student Laura Goldfarb wittily said, “In Rav Machtinger’s class, I learned that on the first day God said, ‘Let there be light’, but it wasn’t until the installation of the new LED lighting at TanenbaumCHAT that I truly understood what that meant. #LEDtherebelight”
Wondering why the lights seem bright? First, we’ve chosen a cool white rather than the warm yellow you’re accustomed to seeing in the fluorescent bulbs. Second, LEDs provide directional light. Traditional bulbs emit light 360°, but only 30% of the light reaches the target area. The rest is directed outwards and upwards. LEDs emit light at a 110° pattern, so all the light is concentrated downwards.
Our estimated payback on this investment is just over two years. That means that the first two years of immediate energy savings will offset our $160,000 investment. Thereafter we will continue to pay close to $80,000 less each year than we have paid in the past and no longer consume thousands of kilowatts of energy.
A bright idea, no?