Brightening Up Texas A&M's Campus

Why Texas A&M should invest in the switch to LED lights

Introduction to LED lights (Aaron Blasband)

Texas A&M has $500,000 to invest on a technical project that will advance the University. If from the video you thought we were suggesting that A&M invest in a nightclub… I wish. Instead we are suggesting that the money should be used to invest in the implementation of LED light bulbs on campus. According to Energy Star, “ LEDs, or light–emitting diodes, are semiconductor devices that produce visible light when an electrical current passed through them. LEDs are a type of Solid State Lighting (SSL), as are organic light–emitting diodes (OLEDs) and light–emitting polymers (LEPs).” The first commercial LEDs were commonly used as replacements for incandescent and neon indicator lamps, and in seven-segment displays, first in expensive equipment such as laboratory and electronics test equipment, then later in such appliances as TVs, radios, telephones, calculators, as well as watches. You may be thinking now, how would investing in party lights have long term positive effects on the university. Well LED lights have a variety of benefits that can positively effect this campus.

Benefits of LED lights in General:

  • The efficiency of LED lighting fixtures is not affected by shape and size, unlike fluorescent light bulbs or tubes.

  • LEDs can emit light of an intended color without using any color filters as traditional lighting methods need. This is more efficient and can lower initial costs.

  • LEDs can be very small (smaller than 2 mm) and are easily attached

  • LEDs light up very quickly. A typical red indicator LED will achieve full brightness in under a microsecond.

  • LEDs are ideal for uses subject to frequent on-off cycling, unlike incandescent and fluorescent lamps that fail faster when cycled often

  • LEDs can very easily be dimmed either by pulse-width modulation or lowering the forward current.

  • In contrast to most light sources, LEDs radiate very little heat in the form of IR that can cause damage to sensitive objects or fabrics.

  • LEDs mostly fail by dimming over time, rather than the abrupt failure of incandescent bulbs.

  • LEDs can have a relatively long useful life. One report estimates 35,000 to 50,000 hours of useful life, though time to complete failure may be longer.

  • LEDs, being solid-state components, are difficult to damage with external shock, unlike fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, which are fragile.

  • The solid package of the LED can be designed to focus its light. Incandescent and fluorescent sources often require an external reflector to collect light and direct it in a usable manner.


Benefits of LED's on Texas A&M's Campus:

  • Will lead to improvements in safety all around campus due to it being more lit up
  • There will be economic benefits due to lower energy costs
  • It will be more energy efficient leading to lower costs as well as being better for the environment
  • The implementation of smart LED lighting systems, which use sensors to determine how many people are around and determine brightness based on those scans, would make the systems even more efficient.
  • With the variability of the lighting systems, in terms of colors and brightness, they can have uses in sporting or other entertainment based events
MADRIX professional @ night club Lukrezia - Acapulco Diamante, Mexico

Lighten Up The Darkness: A Safer Texas A&M Campus (Jameson Turner)

Here, at Texas A&M, we are faced with dangers in the night. The dangers include pedestrians crossing through traffic, violations to women walking across campus, and burglaries. All of these issues are predominately frequent at night and we wonder how we can limit these safety violations to create a safer haven out of our beloved campus. The solution is simple. We as a university and student body need to use erect more LED light systems as well as replacing all non-LED light sources with LED bulbs to create a brighter campus in hopes that this will cut down the amount of dangers that our campus and students face.


Pedestrians Crossing Traffic Areas


Many students have faced the problem of having to walk home from Northgate or even walk home from campus after a long night of studying. These students, most of the time, cross heavy traffic roads such as University, George Bush, South Texas, or Wellborn (all the roads that enclose the campus of Texas A&M). Unfortunately, not all students who have walked home at night have made it home safe. Recently, October 19th and November 20th, three pedestrians have died by being struck by vehicles when trying to walk across these heavy traffic, poorly lit streets. Research shows that if given more light around these areas by using the innovative LED systems, these victims could have been seen earlier and an appropriate response could have been taken by the drivers to ensure that a collision was not made.


Girls Walking Across Campus at Night


Girls walking across campus at night are subject to danger posed by violators. Sexual predators and/or stalkers are more prone to attack during these late hours because of the darkness and decreased chance of being seen by witnesses. However, if the campus of Texas A&M was outfitted with LED systems such as Smart LED’s and more LED lamps, we can see a decrease in the number of attacks (6 rapes and 2 counts of sexual assaults in 2014). Research shows that improved lighting will deter potential offenders, make the offenders more identifiable for the limited witnesses, and actually create a more comfortable environment at night resulting in more possible witnesses to be out and present.


Burglaries at Night on the Campus of Texas A&M


Burglaries at Texas A&M has become a big problem around campus resulting in 82 bikes being stolen and 6 stolen vehicles in 2014. With the notion that burglaries appear more often at night (1/3 according to FBI Statistics), we can assume the cause can be traced back to fact that we do not provide enough light in these areas. Vehicles and bikes are usually stationed and illuminated by sodium-vapor bulbs that produce a CRI percent of 25 while the LED bulbs produce an 85-90 percent CRI. If switched to the LED bulb lighting, these areas will become more brightened, identification of offenders will be made easier, and more offenders will be deterred from the area.

Smart LED Systems: providing a brighter future for all -- Alain Estrada

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Sure, LED systems are great, but there's no getting around it. No matter how efficient LEDs are, they use energy, and energy usage is the enemy. So how can we get around this?
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Solar Panels

We can further minimize the cost of and energy consumption of lighting by coupling LED technology with solar panels. Society generally has a bad perception of solar power. Time after time people reject the technology because they believe the costs far outweigh the benefits, they're not efficient, and they only work with optimal sunlight. That simply isn't the case anymore. Solar power is better than ever, and more importantly, cheaper than ever. Turning a streetlight solar would cost less that $100 per unit. What's the best part of this investment? It pays for itself in less than 3 years! Beyond that, it will eventually begin generating revenue when it passes that threshold. No need to worry about foggy days either, since new batteries allow for storage of energy for those rainy Aggie days.
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Motion Sensing Technology

How many times have you been in a building on campus and noticed that all the lights are on, but no one is there? Can you imagine how wasteful that is? No longer are the days where we stand for this! With smart LED technology, lighting will be equipped with motion sensors so that lights are only in use when they are needed. The energy savings will be incredible, considering how few students use the streetlights in the hours before dawn on any give day. Not only will the energy saving be great, but it could also vastly improve quality of sleep in many areas, as rooms that are usually plagued by the constant flood of light between the cracks of the curtains will now be blessed with mostly darkness. Furthermore, it would consequently add an accidental security system to the campus. It would be very hard for anyone to sneak around and do illegal activities with a trail of activated lights following them.
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Light Pollution Protection

Does the image on the right seem familiar to you? This is what the sky looks like at best on any College Station night. It's incredible how much our little town suffers from light pollution considering we are in the middle of nowhere. There are no major cities near us, so there's no reason for the skies to be this dull. This effect was especially amplified with the building of the new Kyle Field, more specifically it's jumbotron. When they were first testing it the night was smeared with ugly neon greens and reds that could be seen miles upon miles out. Smart LED technologies seek to curb the effects of light pollution. Street lamps and other outdoor fixtures will be fitted with "hats" of sorts that keep the angles of light pointing into the usable area, instead of just letting it float off into space. Without all that excess light, perhaps we will be able to find twinkling lights in the sky besides the flashing of phones in Kyle Field.
Smart LED Lighting System

Environmental Benefits of LED's (John Mendoza)

As students of Texas A&M we need to be at the forefront of technological advancements. Our campus is currently illuminated with light sources like fluorescent and incandescent lights. These light sources are outdated and waste too much useful energy. As result of this wasted energy, our environment is harmed greatly. We need to bring our campus up to 21st century standards and be leaders in energy efficiency and environmental awareness by implementing LED lights across campus.


Current Incandescent and Fluorescent Lighting is not Eco-friendly


Fluorescent type lights are very hazardous to the environment and us. They contain components with rare earth metal toxins like lead, cadmium, and mercury. Also, if a fluorescent light bulb is even broken, these toxins are released into the air and the room must be cleared because they can be lethal if inhaled. Incandescent lights are also not very kind to the environment. These lights waste 90% of the energy they consume as only heat in order to produce light so they are not very efficient. Incandescent lights also contain toxic metals that poison our environment and actually contribute twice as much pollution to the environment than fluorescent lights.


The Harm Conventional Incandescent and Fluorescent Lights Cause


When these lights go out and need to be thrown away those harmful toxins that they carry with them end up in our landfills and poison the ground and air. There are many negative effects that come with that. They poison our food sources, killing animals and plants along the way. They can even possibly end up on our food plates from those animals and plants we eat. Additionally, the extreme inefficiencies these lights contribute to more emissions and pollution. These lights call for a higher demand of new energy production from plants, as they continue to waste away so much of the energy they consume.


The Solution: LEDs


In order to save more energy and prevent damage to the environment, we must replace all of the current lighting systems with LED lights. LEDs are an advanced form of lighting and they prevent those factors that cause all of this environmental harm from happening. LEDs don't contain any mercury unlike fluorescent and incandescent lights, so by replacing we would taking a huge step to a cleaner, safer environment. LEDs also last significantly longer than incandescent and fluorescent lights, lasting an average of 50,000 hours. LEDs use 80-85% less energy than conventional lighting, so there is a significant decrease in harm done from greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants produced by energy producing coal plants. LED provide the highest efficiency and eco-friendliness for our campus at Texas A&M.

LED vs CFL vs Incandescent A19 Light Bulbs

Brightening up A&M (Matthew Nino)

Here in Aggie-Land we are always striving to be more efficient in how we do things and try to save money while striving for success as well. In area that seems ripe for a potential investment would be the lighting technology. The implementation of a LED lighting system could help A&M in numerous ways, a few include saving energy and costs in the long run.
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The Current/Outdated Lighting Technology

Incandescent bulbs are lit by heating a wire tungsten filament until it begins to glow. Approximately 90 percent of energy is actually heat, making them inefficient. So it turns out this "light source is a pretty massive heat source. Now when you digest this information you have to think outside of the bulb, quite literally, think of the surroundings and other areas it may affect. We live in Texas where it can get hot enough to fry an egg simply by leaving it out on the sidewalk for a few minutes, so we know how hot it can get year-round. We all pretty much are dependent on air conditioning to live comfortably for most of the year. The fact that this bulb produces so much heat for its size, means our air conditioning units have to work harder to cool off the heat being produced by this bulb; therefore, increasing the amount of electricity being used/wasted in the building. It is apparent how that is a huge red flag for college students paying electricity, businessmen, and here for our campus.
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Numerical Data on the Current/Outdated Lighting Technology

For starters, the light from fluorescent bulbs does not have any particular directional light source. When this type of bulb is lit it gives lighting all the way around the bulb (360 degree lighting). Now unless you care about lighting the surface above the bulb, which is being obscured by the bulb itself, this is a gross misuse of energy. In fact only about 60 percent of the actual light given off is being used. If you want to look at a different set of numbers for the same situation, you are wasting 40 percent of energy.

LED light bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours compared to its competitors which on average last about 10,000 hours, or 5 times less than the LED light bulbs. Another bit of information that will elucidate the significant improvement for the LED light bulb, is the fact that the average lifespan of incandescent light bulbs is about 1,200 hours, so it takes about 42 of these bulbs to match the maximum life expectancy of an LED light bulb. All these replacement bulbs can just keep raking up the costs, and no one wants to be wasting their money or time to go to the store to keep buying these outdated bulbs. The total operational cost over the span of 23 years of an incandescent light bulb is about $201, for the same time span the LED bulb will only cost about $38, so the costs to operate the LED bulb is close to 40 percent of the outdated competitor.
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How LED bulbs are More Effective

In the article "Are Efficient LED bulbs worth the price?" by Martin LaMonica, he gives us an example of some numbers discussing costs between the bulbs. It is said, if one is to use a bulb for two hours a day and paid the average 11.5 cents per kilowatt hour, a single LED will cost about a buck a year. Compared to the 5 dollars a year for the incandescent bulbs. In other words you are getting more bang for your buck with the LED bulb. Not only does it cost less, but the use of energy is much more efficient.

The U.S Department of Energy states that LED's offer the potential for cutting general lighting energy costs essentially 50 percent by 2030. Some positive aspects of the LED bulb include: compact size, long life, ease of maintenance, resistance to breakage, good performance in cold temperatures, and lack of infrared and U.V emissions. If the old bulbs I was mentioning earlier are put into terms of the machines of the Terminator, the current/outdated technology can be compared to the T-100's and the LED bulbs are the T-1000's of the industry. Looking at the bigger picture, LED products will be more expensive straight out of the store, but when one takes into account the costs of energy and the maintenance costs put into each of the bulbs into the total cost, LED products will have the edge.