Students conduct audit for lighting retrofit

CSU Fullerton Campus-wide LED Lighting Retrofit

With many affordable LED lighting products now available, California campuses are taking advantage of creative procurement strategies to implement LED lighting retrofits. At CSU Fullerton, campus energy managers partnered with students, facility technicians, and utility representatives to facilitate a comprehensive LED lighting upgrade across the entire campus. By controlling soft costs and maximizing available funding, the project will have a rapid payback of approximately one year, providing half a million dollars in annual cost savings. These savings will provide funds that may be used for improved facilities, to fund energy and sustainability projects, and to educate campus stakeholders on sustainability and energy conservation.

Creative use of campus resources for both funding and labor are expected to yield over $500,000 annual savings, with a payback of approximately one year.

The project’s primary objective was to retrofit 25-watt linear fluorescent lamps with 15-watt LED tubes in existing luminaires across campus. As a first step towards this goal, a team of energy and sustainability student interns conducted a campus-wide audit documenting all interior linear fixtures, identifying a total of over 65,000 tubes for potential replacement.

The project team took advantage of both campus and utility funding opportunities, including a loan from the campus Green Revolving Fund (GRF). The GRF was established to support energy initiatives across campus, and is structured so that the annual energy savings and utility incentives are channeled back into the fund’s coffers. After each loan is repaid, ongoing cost savings are credited to campus units. The school’s inaugural allocation for the fund was $1 million, and as loans are repaid the fund will continue to grow. The LED lighting retrofit project represented the new fund’s first loan.

Linear LED lamp

Linear LED lamp as used in the CSU Fullerton campus-wide retrofit. Top image: Student energy interns conduct lighting audit.

The project also received $500,000 in incentives from Southern California Edison, representing one of the first LED tube retrofits in the utility’s incentive portfolio. As such, the selected products needed to pass both SCE standards as well as university requirements. The project team leaders researched available products, taking advantage of lighting technology conferences, manufacturer tours, and on-campus meetings with manufacturers and distributors. The final products were selected through the campus’ standard procurement process.

The installation was completed in four months, mostly over the summer to reduce potential conflicts with building users. The team coordinated with Environmental Health and Safety managers to confirm that old fluorescent tubes were properly disposed of. The team also created an outreach campaign to engage building users, working with campus communications to take advantage of social media, news media and signage. As a result of this consideration for building users, project managers received few complaints during the process. In addition, the feedback on lighting quality from the retrofit has been positive.

A secondary project goal was to pilot advanced lighting controls on campus. The team piloted products from both Enlighted and Exergy, to test the feasibility of larger scale applications. The controls provide capabilities for daylight harvesting, occupancy sensing, dimming, and detailed scheduling on a highly granular level, down to individual fixtures. Both systems offer desktop and tablet access, with advanced dashboard and interface options. Although the campus did record savings from this pilot, the additional savings from the controls are not included in the savings estimates. From the positive results of this pilot, project managers say that advanced lighting controls will be considered a standard part of future lighting projects at CSUF.

Images courtesy of CSU Fullerton.

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Green Features
  • Retrofit of 65,000 25-watt fluorescent tubes with 15-watt LED lamps
  • Work conducted by campus trades during summer months
  • Student intern team conducted campus-wide energy audit
  • Advanced lighting controls pilot of Enlighted and Exergy products
  • Piloted controls may be accessed via desktop or tablet
  • First CSUF project to utilize Green Revolving Fund
Annual Estimated Energy and Cost Savings
Completion Date
Project Team