Monday, March 5, 2012

Rebates Shed New Light on LED Lighting at Illinois School District

School District 211, the largest school district in Illinois, recently found an opportunity to significantly reduce energy and maintenance costs at one of their high schools, while also improving the attractiveness and brightness of the school’s outdoor lighting.

The outdoor lighting at the entrance to James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates was recently upgraded with LED lighting fixtures. The LED product’s advantages combined with grants and rebates currently offered in Illinois presented a cost reduction opportunity that was too good to pass up.

With budgets under tight scrutiny in many school districts nationwide, lighting projects are on hold or at least being considered on a case-by-case basis depending on necessity. School District 211 was able to buck this trend and upgrade their outdoor lighting by cashing in on a state grant that saved the school district 90 percent of installation costs and reduced its energy consumption to just pennies on the dollar.

Reece Thome is the Energy Efficiency Manager for School District 211, and is charged with evaluating all aspects of building operations to conserve the use of energy without compromising the educational environment for students and staff. Reece’s energy cost analysis for the James B. Conant High School unearthed the potential for substantial savings by upgrading the existing 175 watt Metal Haide Wallpacks with a new LED LPACK outdoor lighting system, manufactured by RAB Lighting. The RAB LED fixtures not only offered a more affordable alternative to similar commercial LED outdoor lighting, but it also offered a substantial reduction in the school’s energy consumption.

“We were spending between $450-500 a month on electricity for the outdoor lighting that stays on from dusk until dawn,” says Reece. “My research showed that by making the upgrade, we would save more than $400 a month on electrical costs alone. And the new RAB LED system also does not require us to change bulbs, which are rather costly and need to be changed frequently, not to mention the maintenance we were paying to have someone change the bulbs. The cost savings were just too compelling to ignore.”

With $5 million in budget cuts, Reece knew that the likelihood of getting budget approval for the project was slim. He conducted a cost analysis to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI). Additionally, Reece learned that many states across the country, including Illinois, are now offering rebates or grants to schools and other facilities willing to install energy efficient “green products.” Reece was surprised and excited to learn that these grants changed the lighting project from impossibility to a cost savings the school system felt was too good to pass on. The grant allowed James B. Conant to install the lights and pay only 10% of the cost of the system, with the rebates taking care of the other 90%.

He presented his findings to the school system’s chief financial officer. Reece says the grant money made the project feasible and with the ROI he was able to demonstrate, the program was approved by the school administration without hesitation.

The program was approved and the old light fixtures were removed. The RAB LPACK20 fixtures were purchased and shipped quickly from Idlewood Electric Supply, and installed for a successful lighting retrofit project. With so many financial benefits, the LPACK 20 is the perfect choice for any commercial or institutional property looking to reduce energy and maintenance costs, including schools, storage facilities, shopping centers and parking lots.

Many LED wallpacks on the market sell for upwards of $500 to $1,000 or more, but RAB’s goal is to keep its low wattage LED fixtures below $200. The LPACK 20 provides more light, less glare, and a longer lifespan compared to traditional outdoor HID lighting, thus saving money and cutting down on maintenance costs. The fixtures do not require re-lamping and the 50,000-hour LED lifespan lasts twice as long as the previous fixtures installed at the school. In addition, all RAB LED products are UL Listed, independently tested and carry a five-year warranty.

Reece’s LED success story is one that should resonate with schools and commercial properties around the country. The RAB LPACK 20 has greatly improved the overall perception of brightness in the 20’ x 70’ canopy area welcoming students to James B Conant High School. The good news gets even better: Illinois is just one of several states to offer similar grants or rebate programs.

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