Digital Systems Blog

Lighting Higher Education’s Way to Sustainability

Education LightingHigher education institutions across the globe have embarked on sustainability initiatives with great success.  As part of their campus philosophy, sustainability concerns are being integrated into curriculum, policies, programs and campus design. By fostering sustainable student lifestyles, the hope of these institutions is that these enlightened young men and women will carry those behaviors and attitudes into the world to support positive environmental change. 

Environmental stewardship is being enacted across campuses with programs such as green-certified buildings, alternative transportation programs, solar heat and air-conditioning, campus-wide recycling, on-campus farming, experiential learning, and energy and water conservation technologies all in the effort to reduce carbon emissions and minimize environmental impact.  

Lighting’s Role in Higher Education

Higher education campuses provide a complex mix of indoor and outdoor environments for numerous activities including academic learning, research, administration, athletic events and student living.  A connected lighting system can transform a campus by optimizing light levels that enhance safety, improve comfort levels, provide more engaging classrooms and boost learning. By leveraging lighting controls, classroom lighting can be programmed to meet specific learning needs whether that is a lecture, hands-on training, or a small group project.  And task tuning capabilities allow light levels to be set at an ideal level for a particular task such as studying.

Energy Saving Lighting Strategies

In today’s sustainability-focused colleges and universities, lighting can provide the flexibility to significantly reduce energy consumption. Faced with declining enrollments, dwindling budgets, and escalating student debt, higher education institutions are seeking ways to control costs. With 24-hour-a-day facilities, colleges and universities are one of the top energy-consuming property types in the U.S., spending over $6 billion annually on energy.  

Modern connected lighting systems enable these institutions to employ energy savings strategies such as occupancy sensors that dim lights when spaces are unoccupied, or daylight harvesting techniques that reduce the amount of artificial light used by leveraging natural daylight when available. As light levels vary during the day, individual fixtures or zones can be programmed to dim up or down so that illumination is maintained evenly at the desired level throughout the space while also reducing energy consumption and costs. 

Advanced Lighting Supports LEED Certification

Green building development is often a key component of a higher education institution’s sustainability program. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the most widely used green building rating system in the world, is employed by numerous colleges and universities in their building projects. To help achieve LEED certification, higher education institutions are implementing LED lighting and networked lighting control systems in their new building designs and retrofits. These advanced lighting systems support LEED certification in many categories including environmental efficiency, indoor environmental efficiency, and sustainable sites. 

Building System Integration

Lighting control systems can now integrate with HVAC and building management systems delivering significant efficiencies including energy savings.  Using sensors on a lighting system network that are triggered by the movement of a heat-emitting body, both lighting and HVAC can be turned on when a room is entered and turned off when a room is unoccupied.  Furthermore, lighting load shed capabilities enable the amount of power used during peak demand periods to be reduced by automatically dimming lights.  

Humber College, Toronto, Canada

Humber College is one of Canada’s leading post secondary institutions, offering a polytechnic education that emphasizes a solid academic foundation and practical, hands-on learning. The college has over 31,000 full-time students and offers bachelor's degrees, diplomas, graduate certificates and apprenticeships in more than 180 programs. Its mission is to develop global citizens with the knowledge and skills to lead and innovate. Humber has created a culture of sustainability. The institution has a dedicated Energy Efficiency team and sustainability is integrated into operations and student learning.

The ENCELIUM® EXTEND Networked Light Management System (LMS) was chosen for centralized lighting control of 20 buildings.  Humber is leveraging the ENCELIUM EXTEND System across the campus in support of sustainability initiatives that reduce energy consumption including the use of occupancy sensors to trigger both lighting and HVAC, daylight harvesting throughout all buildings, and task tuning to create the appropriate light levels for particular activities or uses of space. To instill sustainability in learning, the faculty at Humber College has incorporated the ENCELIUM EXTEND System into their innovative learning sandbox. This initiative enables students to learn how to control, commission and audit lighting systems as part of their studies. 

To learn more, download the case study below.

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Topics: Project Spotlight, Trends