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Lighting upgrades to Derring Hall will save the university $128,000 annually

February 1, 2017

Derring Hall lighting upgrades
The improved lighting in Derring Hall uses 70 percent less energy than the old fixtures.

About 2,500 obsolete lighting fixtures in Derring Hall have been replaced with new LED fixtures and lamps. The change is expected to save the university $128,000 in annual energy and maintenance costs and has a payback of about 4.8 years.

Derring Hall, which was constructed in 1969, contains offices, classrooms, and laboratory space for many of the science programs at Virginia Tech, such as biological sciences and geoscience. The Museum of Geosciences is also in the building.

The lighting system was based on the vintage T12 HO fluorescent lamp technology, which was discontinued by most manufacturers long ago.

Thousands of old fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts have been detached from the old fixtures and recycled according to the university’s hazardous waste management guidelines. The scrap metal from the old fixtures was recycled, reducing the amount of solid waste sent to the landfill and the carbon emissions that would have been created by its disposal.

The project has substantially improved the quality of indoor illumination, providing a better learning environment for students.

Nonfunctional canopy lights on the second and third floors of the building and the roof have also been replaced, creating a safer environment for students and employees at night. The exterior lights complement the recently completed Derring Steps adjacent to the building.

In addition to the higher energy costs associated with the old system, finding the required lamps and ballasts to keep the system functional had become increasingly difficult in recent years. As a result, there were significant operational costs to the university and lighting in classrooms and labs was poor.

“The electric load in the building has dropped by about 180kW, which is equivalent to a 70 percent reduction in the initial lighting load in the building,” according to Campus Energy Manager Ruben Avagyan.

In addition to significant operational cost savings, the project has reduced on-campus greenhouse gas emissions by about 1,580,000 pounds per year, which will help Virginia Tech achieve its Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Goals.

The project began in May 2016 and wrapped up in January 2017.

A similar project recently began to update the lighting in the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine building on Duck Pond Drive. Work on that project is expected to be completed this summer.

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