Reduced Energy Usage for Educational Facilities

Schools are excellent laboratories for energy efficient lighting projects. Hours of operation are static and energy costs are always a prime concern. Savings are easy to chart. Improvement in fluorescent lighting: improved color rendering, higher lumen maintenance and elimination of flicker have been proven to have a positive effect on the learning environment.

Projects can provide an opportunity for students to learn the science of lighting and to gain an appreciation for energy conservation. Financing techniques such as performance contracts and lease/purchases are often a solution for budgeting and capital expenditure issues. The benefits are many for schools and students.

Case Study - Columbia University Biosphere 2

Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 Center, situated on 250 acres in the beautiful Sonoran Desert of Arizona, is one of the world’s largest living laboratories. The campus hosts programs in earth science and planetary science and includes several different biomes representative of the natural ecosystems of several diverse locations, including rainforests and oceans.

The focal point of the Biosphere 2 Center is a glass and metal dome that houses the individual biomes. In addition, there are numerous classrooms, student apartments and administration buildings spread out across the campus. As a first step in reducing energy consumption and as a move towards their goal of energy self-sufficiency, the Biosphere 2 Center chose Earth Savers to design and implement a complete lighting retrofit. In addition to saving energy, the new system was also designed to minimize light pollution affecting the campus telescopes.

The scope of work at the Biosphere 2 center included a complete retrofit of all linear fluorescent fixtures with the Howard Industries low power HEX electronic ballast and the GE high color rendering SPX, ECO, 85 CRI, 4100K T8 lamps. Earth Savers also installed new linear fluorescent fixtures, new compact fluorescent lamps and occupancy sensors. Installation of these measures provided a substantial reduction in energy consumption while improving both the quality and aesthetic appearance of the lighting at the same time. Through the combined efforts of the Biosphere 2 staff, Earth Savers, and GE Lighting, students of a nearby middle school learned about lighting and the project and calculated the savings themselves using GE’s Internet based GELA program.


Total Annual Energy Savings $38,759.85
NetProject Cost $117,437.03
Payback of Investment
36 Months

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