Herndon, Va.-based Renaissance Lighting recently announced its support of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, birthplace of the light emitting diode (LED), in completing its largest sustainable energy/energy-saving lighting project to date at the University’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

The centerpiece of the almost 600-fixture solid-state lighting initiative is Krannert Center’s lobby, a 25,000-sq-ft space shared by four separate theater and concert venues. For 40 years this lobby has been illuminated by 625 incandescent light fixtures, which consume nearly 573.8 million watts annually.

"The university is a huge proponent of the green movement, and we view Krannert Center as the crown jewel in that effort, " says Michael Williams, Krannert Center’s lighting director. "We’re focused on saving energy and sustainable energy initiatives, and if you look at how this project is being funded, all of the dots are green and they connect perfectly. The Renaissance Lighting luminaires provide us with energy efficiency and great cost savings in many areas and contain capabilities providing us incredible creativity and flexibility. "

Half the project funding is grant money from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, according to Williams. The balance of the funding is a seven-year, zero-interest loan from the university's Student Sustainability Committee whose income stems from a $2 clean energy fee that students pay every semester. Williams notes that the Krannert Center lighting project is the first major green effort to be backed financially by the student group.

By retrofitting the Krannert Center lobby ceiling with Renaissance Lighting luminaires, energy consumption will decrease dramatically -- by about 460 million watts annually, notes Renaissance Lighting CEO, Barry Weinbaum. "By spending less on electricity and along with the impressive longevity of our luminaires, we expect Krannert Center will realize annual savings greater than $70,000 annually, " he continues. "The quality of the light produced by our fixtures surpasses any incandescent or fluorescent fixture on the market as each luminaire provides a glare-free, superior light throw and eliminates hot spots. Also, our color-changing products provide for both efficiency and creativity unique to the lighting industry. "

Krannert Center can anticipate additional savings due to the fact that solid-state LED luminaires produce virtually no heat below the suspended ceiling where they are installed. By contrast, 90% of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs is in the form of heat rather than light, which in turn increases air-conditioning load and related costs. LED luminaires outlast their incandescent counterparts; 50,000 to 70,000 hours versus 2,000 hours for incandescent bulbs, thereby eliminating frequent and costly light replacement.