Energy-Saving Lighting & Light Sensors

For about 15 years, the University has been replacing incandescent lighting with more efficient, longer-lasting fluorescent bulbs.

The environmental benefit of fluorescent lighting rests in its energy savings. One 27-watt fluorescent light has the same light output as one 100-watt incandescent bulb, translating into a near 75 percent energy savings. This means less energy and the pollutants and green house gases associated with producing that electricity. In fact, the life span of a 27-watt compact fluorescent bulb will save more than 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere when compared with the 100 watt bulb. Moreover, the conventional incandescent bulb lasts for 750 hours, while the fluorescent one lives to the ripe old age of 10,000 hours.

On the Morningside campus, lighting controls include timers in most academic spaces. These devices prevent lights from being left on overnight and are usually programmed for 10-to-12 hour control settings. Recent technology improvements have made occupancy sensors much more reliable than they have been in the past in determining whether a space is truly vacant and switching off lights accordingly. The University will move to this newer, more-sophisticated type of lighting control on new construction projects. 

Columbia’s Public Safety department has introduced fleet hybridization as a means of further reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. Once fleets are incorporated into Bloomberg’s PlaNYC challenge, these savings will count toward Columbia’s mayoral carbon challenge goal. Hybrid cars are introduced into the patrol fleet as older vehicles are retired, in the hopes of eventually replacing the entire fleet with hybrids. The effect of these vehicles is near-zero emissions and maximized fuel efficiency. The anticipated effect is a savings of 2,200 gallons of gas per year. With this, the Department of Public Safety will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.