Virginia Tech expects to save $76,000 annually with a payback of 3.2 years after replacing about 1,250 older lighting fixtures in Fralin Life Science Institute with LED fixtures and lamps.

The Fralin Life Science Institute, constructed in 1995, is an interdisciplinary research center that brings scientists together to solve some of biology's most complex challenges. The previous lighting system was based on the vintage T12 fluorescent lamp technology, inefficient in contrast to contemporary LED lighting technology.

Thousands of old lamps and 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 has been 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. Canopy and exterior lights of the building have also been replaced, creating a safer environment for students and employees at night.

In addition to the higher energy costs associated with the previous 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 not optimal.

“The electric load in the building has dropped by about 80 kW, which is equivalent to about 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 580,000 pounds per year, which will help Virginia Tech achieve its Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Goals.

The project began in March 2018 and wrapped up in July 2018 and became possible because of the partnership between the Virginia Tech Facilities Department and the Office of Budget and Financial Planning, which has provided the necessary funding for this program as part of Virginia Tech Five-Year Energy Action Plan.

Similar lighting updates in Durham and Whittemore halls on Perry Street are underway and are expected to be completed this fall.