Higher Education, Sustainability, and Technology

LG Electronics USA lights up Davenport campuses

Collaborative effort enhances university’s long-term sustainability goals.

July 31, 2015
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Davenport Lighting
All of Davenport University’s campuses, including this one in Holland, are getting a lighting makeover with help from West Michigan’s Brightview Lighting. Courtesy Davenport University

A Grand Rapids-based university is receiving an illuminating makeover through a partnership with a West Michigan-based energy savings company and the North American subsidiary of an international electronics and lighting manufacturer.

Davenport University announced recently a partnership with LG Electronics USA to supply energy-efficient lighting fixtures on its campuses across the state in collaboration with Brightview Lighting, a West Michigan-based lighting energy savings company, as part of the university’s multi-year program to convert existing lighting with LED solutions by 2018.

The lighting conversion initiative will retrofit existing light fixtures on Davenport’s various campuses in Michigan with LG’s LED products.

Nathan McCormick, executive director of facility operations at Davenport, said the university is always seeking ways to improve operating efficiencies, and converting to LED lighting solutions resulted in lower utility costs almost immediately.

“We are working closely with our partners Brightview Lighting for its lighting and project management expertise, and LG Electronics for its world-class LED lighting technologies,” said McCormick. “The benefits of converting all of our campuses to LED fixtures and lighting include contributing to sustainability goals being built into the university’s long-range vision, to better manage energy costs, to create an optimal learning environment for our students, and ultimately to be better stewards of our planet.”

LG lighting products selected for installation include 2-by-4-foot retrofit troffers with more than 140 lumens per watt and an estimated energy savings of more than 50 percent; and the LED tube, which provides an estimated 106 lumens per watt and uses 44 percent less energy than traditional 32-watt fluorescent tubes, according to a press release.

While the university doesn’t disclose annual expenditures on facilities maintenance, the investment in the lighting conversion is a “sizeable expense,” according to Robin Luymes, executive director of communications. Through its partnership with Brightview Lighting, Davenport negotiated a price for the LG LED lighting; the average payback on LED lighting is estimated at around eight years.

Davenport began partnering with Brightview approximately two years ago to identify solutions for the university’s existing lighting fixtures to help the university reach its sustainability goals. Brightview conducted an inventory and facilitated the development of the multi-year conversion plan, according to McCormick.

“I had been looking for a lighting contractor we could use to assist in developing our lighting program,” said McCormick. “Our resources are somewhat stretched, facility-wise, at times, so in order to do the background work, the inventory of what we had, Brightview agreed to do that and provide us with all the information needed in order to start making viable decisions.”

Using the compiled inventory numbers and factoring in federally mandated use of T8 lamps and the discontinuation of T12 lighting, Davenport and Brightview created a multi-year program to update fixtures based on existing costs, utility costs, need and customer feedback received over the years.

“We started basically with an agenda, and from that agenda, Brightview used their expertise to help us develop an installation schedule,” said McCormick. “Brightview stays on top of the latest and greatest in technology and they pushed quite heavily that we look at LED lighting because many of our campuses are 20 to 25 years old and the technology is in need of upgrading.”

Michael Jasperse, president and owner of Brightview, said the actual project is quite straight-forward after completing the audit, inventory, receiving approval and allocating capital.

“It probably takes less than 10 minutes a fixture to change it over to LED. It has really been one to two weeks per campus working around classroom schedules and office schedules,” said Jasperse.

“For Davenport’s needs, LG’s class-leading lumen-per-watt, uniform light outputs, and customizable warranties made their LED products extremely attractive.”

Since launching the conversion in 2014, Davenport has installed more than 600 LED fixtures and improved its energy savings by more than 70,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The university anticipates an overall energy savings of more than 1,459,000 kilowatt-hours per year as the conversion continues through 2018.

Although there is a several-year payback for the sustainability initiative, McCormick said lowered utility costs are recognized within a month, and the university is helping to improve the environment.

Faculty members have expressed positive feedback.

“They no longer go home with headaches and eye strain because of old technology,” said McCormick. “From an expenditure standpoint and a sustainability standpoint, the university is moving more and more into sustainability, and this type of program is a low-hanging fruit. There is a lot you can do with sustainability and this is one where the results are almost immediate.”

Brightview’s Mark VandenBerge said one of the barriers to sustainability is confusion among consumers about what is the best way to start down the sustainability path.

“We found Davenport was receptive to the idea that lighting could be a place where the greatest gains could be made the fastest and make an impression on the bottom line, the finance office, and create some momentum,” said VandenBerge.

“It is not just technology for technology’s sake but improves lighting — it is really the triple bottom line people talk about.”

McCormick said the relationship between Brightview, LG Electronics and the university has been very beneficial from a cost standpoint and staying up-to-date with the latest and greatest in technology.

“LG has been very forthcoming on some of their new products coming down the road that we may be interested in — not only for classrooms but also for gyms and street lighting, eventually.” 

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