BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Lights are shining more brightly on the
University at Buffalo's North (Amherst) Campus this winter because
the university has swapped some conventional lamps for LEDs,
LEDs are being promoted by the companies that manufacture and
distribute them as more energy-efficient and durable than such
conventional lighting technologies as incandescent and fluorescent
One such company, Solid State Lighting (SSL) Industries, got its
start in the UB Technology Incubator located on Sweet Home Road,
just off campus, where the company still is based. SSL has done
work for Fallsview and Seneca Niagara casinos, as well as Texas
The company's founder Dennis Ryan, UB alum and a graduate of
UB's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, approached UB
Facilities last semester and convinced the university to conduct an
objective test of several LED products from different vendors,
All of the UB analyses will be made public in March.
"Sometimes the claims are too good to be true," said Al
Gilewicz, UB assistant director of utility operations, "but this is
definitely an emerging technology that has a lot of merit. As it
matures, it stands a chance of really changing how we look at and
provide lighting in buildings."
Five new LED street lights were installed on the service road
leading to the Baker Chilled Water Plant on the North Campus, while
a total of four new LED interior lights were installed in corridors
in the UB Center for the Arts and 20 LED lamps were installed in
the main lobby of Alumni Arena, home of the UB Athletics
"Indoors, we already have data showing that just by switching to
LED lights in these areas, we would cut our annual carbon emissions
by approximately seven metric tons," said Gilewicz.
Energy savings for the interior areas have been calculated to
total nearly 8,000 kilowatts per year in the Center for the Arts
and 10,500 kilowatts per year in Alumni Arena.
Payback on the investment would vary, from less than two years
to around three years; after that period, Gilewicz said that their
data show sufficient cost savings to make the investment
According to Gilewicz, UB Facilities actively pursues
energy-reduction strategies in compliance with the university's
plan to go "climate-neutral," reducing or offsetting all of its
greenhouse gas emissions, as a result of UB President John B.
Simpson's signing of the American College and University Presidents
"Lighting consumes 25-30 percent of all the energy used by a
building," explained Gilewicz. "Our idea was to test the LED
technology to see if it would provide a level of lighting that was
the same as or better than our existing lights, while using less
electricity and reducing carbon emissions.
The potential to use LED street lights may ultimately provide
even more benefits, he added. "Preliminary data on our LED street
lights indicate that the LED fixtures draw roughly half of the
energy of the existing high-pressure sodium street lights we
And universities aren't the only institutions that are
interested in using LEDs for street lights, he said.
"Even the power companies are interested in our results," said
Gilewicz. "There are a lot of street lights out there and the
utility companies want to see our whole cost/benefit analysis," he
While commercial use of LEDs is soaring, it may be awhile before
LEDs are common household items. Nevertheless, according to
manufacturers like Buffalo's SSL Industries, LEDs can last for up
to 75,000 hours, lasting 17 years, before losing 30 percent of
their brightness while incandescent bulbs are said to last an
average of 700 to 1000 hours.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State
University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their
academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate
and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University
at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American