The Challenge:

In a building centered around the visual arts, nothing could be more paramount than lighting—a painter has to be able to get the right colors on the canvas, and a photographer needs control of her shadows. The Carpenter Center had 620 Halogen lamps, all on track lighting throughout the building, using roughly 180,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), or over $20,000 of energy a year. Beyond energy consumption, many of these bulbs lasted less than a year, which meant that a dozen new bulbs had to be installed each week, which is both a waste of money and employee time.

So when Carpenter Center choose to explore efficient lighting, they had to be very careful about the fixtures/bulbs that would be chosen. Attempts were made over a couple of years to find a more energy efficient replacement bulb that would satisfy the studio and individual needs and be aesthetically acceptable in this architecturally important building. During this time the LED technology caught up with their needs and the team found a LED bulb which provided the illumination needed and closely resembled the PAR38 Halogen that they had been using.

The Solution:

To start the retrofit process, the team first did a mock up in one small section of a studio with 40 LED PAR 38 bulbs. The LED bulbs were accepted and all of the studios were retrofitted with the new energy efficient bulbs. The LED fixtures had very good color temperature and brightness. Even better, they had an expected lifespan of 10 years, so there would be much less time spent replacing bulbs.

All 620 90 watt Halogen bulbs were replaced with the 18w LED equivalents. There were a few additional complications—for example, all of the track lighting needed extra securing to handle the additional weight of the LEDs. But that work was worth it: the building is using about 10,000 kWh less energy each month, which translates to about $14,400 in savings annually. The project has already paid itself back in energy savings alone, and that is without including the cost of replacing bulbs each year (since the installation, Building Manager Dan Lopez has only had to replace three bulbs).

Additional Efforts:

Building Manager Dan Lopez has not stopped with electricity savings—next he is focusing on cooling savings. He is working closely with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ (FAS) Energy Team to manage his building cooling and ventilation system more efficiently, while still maintaining acceptable conditions in the studios as well as the Sert Gallery. This should result in thousands more dollars of savings each year.

In the last year, Lopez has demonstrated that it is possible to take an architecturally important building, even one that has very specific needs, and manage it in a manner that not only meets those needs, but does so efficiently.

Key to Success:

Understanding the specific needs of building occupants and ensuring that their needs were met. To do this, the team piloted the use of LEDs in a sample space where faculty and students could evaluate whether or not the lighting met their needs.


Thanks to Carpenter Center Building Manager Dan Lopez for all of his work.