LED lighting allows for increased efficiency and better learning experience

Michigan district saves millions with switch to high-efficiency lighting solutions by GUSCO Energy
By: | Issue: December, 2015 | Case Study
October 26, 2015

As part of a bigger plan to streamline operations and cut costs districtwide, Tecumseh Public Schools hired Mike Smith as director of facilities to establish a maintenance and facilities plan in 2014. There had been minimal preventive maintenance and facilities processes in place before that for the district of 2,500 students in southeast Michigan. Smith’s evaluation revealed the fluorescent and metal-halide fixtures in the four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school were inefficient and costly.

“Lighting popped out immediately as an area where change could make a real impact, and quickly,” says Smith.

The plan was simple: Replace existing lighting with LED fixtures and direct the resulting utility bill savings to fund other facilities improvement projects.

After Smith’s team sent out an RFP, GUSCO Energy emerged as a knowledgeable partner for the furnishing of high-efficiency LED lighting. Offering a from-start-to-finish approach, GUSCO Energy engineers can recommend fixture types, provide alternate options when necessary and handle all retrofitting and installation.

“A representative from GUSCO Energy walked me through the benefits of LED and helped me prepare that information for presentation to my superintendent and the Board of Education,” says Smith.

Tecumseh’s superintendent and Board of Education were receptive to and supportive of the benefits of LED lighting. Beyond the cost savings over traditional lighting, LED makes for a better learning and working environment for students and school employees. The color renders white instead of yellow and is much brighter and friendlier to the eyes.

In the high school, over 2,400 interior and exterior lights were switched to LED in July 2015. Immediately following that, 1,700 lights at the middle school were replaced. Lights in the elementary schools are expected to be replaced in 2016 and 2017.

To properly track impact, the team from GUSCO Energy provided photometric layouts and an comprehensive energy analysis for every area.

“GUSCO Energy became a part of my team,” says Smith. “They keep me informed and updated and provide all documentation for anything I need to know about the lighting.”

From technical training areas to the gymnasium, the impact of LED has been immediately noticeable. The gymnasium was previously equipped with 400-watt metal-halide fixtures. When replaced one for one with LED fixtures, the average footcandle reading jumped from 18 to the low 50s.

“The sports coaches cannot say enough positive things,” says Smith. “When the superintendent and Board of Education did a building tour, they were amazed how the LED lights bring out the real colors of the school and change the look and atmosphere.”

Word of the impact at Tecumseh is spreading to neighboring districts, says Smith.

“Administrators from two other districts took a tour of our high school and could not believe the power of the lighting,” he says. “I believe they are in the process of converting their schools to LED.”

From its utility companies, Tecumseh will receive a combined incentive payment of $100,000 for making the switch to LED. And between the middle and high schools, the district expects to see $1.8 million in energy and maintenance savings over the next 10 years. Because GUSCO Energy offers a 10-year guarantee and warranty on materials and labor, Tecumseh will not see any lighting-related expenses until 2025.

“We also installed dimmers in all of the classrooms,” says Smith. “If a teacher dims the light enough, we can save about $1,000 per classroom per year in utility costs.”

GUSCO Energy is a Brint Electric company. Brint Electric and its affiliates have been implementing energy efficiency projects for school districts for 45 years. For more information, visit brintelectric.com and gogusco.com or call 419-469-6790.