Students’ Inaugural Bulb Replacement Effort Saves Rensselaer More Than $21,000 Annually

Achievement date: 

The Sustainability Club at the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications ERC (LESA) completed its first major bulb replacement project on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the ERC’s lead institution. More than 300 halogen bulbs operating 24/7 were replaced with more energy-efficient and significantly longer-lifetime LED bulbs in the Great Hall and Darrin Communication Center (DCC). Initial energy savings projected at 80% allows for a return on investment (ROI) within just 18 months and significant energy savings annually.


The inaugural bulb replacement project is a first step toward the goal of realizing a campus-wide intelligent lighting system at Rensselaer – a system that will be developed and used by the LESA ERC as a testbed for developing leading-edge lighting technology. The student lead project in the DCC alone will realize an estimated $21,000 per year in energy and labor costs savings as well as a reduction in Rensselaer’s annual carbon footprint by 123 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).


The LESA ERC recently founded the Sustainability Club to attract and leverage interest in intelligent lighting technology among the undergraduate student population. The mission of the club is to work with the LESA ERC and Rensselaer’s Physical Plant to implement both first-wave bulb replacement and lighting redesign across campus. The students also aim to create additional opportunities that will impact the long-term energy conservation planning and sustainability of campus operations while enabling significant cost savings.

The team for the DCC project included the Sustainability Club in the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2012; two students from the Questar New Visions High School at Rensselaer (part of the ERC’s Young Scholar’s program) in Spring of 2012; and the Sustainability Cases Senior Capstone Team from the O. T. Swanson Multidisciplinary Design Laboratory in Spring of 2012. The collaborative effort brought together young scholars, undergraduates, and ERC leadership through a sustained outreach effort.