DAVIS - The University of California, Davis, today unveiled one
of the most advanced outdoor lighting systems in the country, a
roughly $1 million network of "smart" lights that
talk to each other and adapt to their environment.
The $950,000 project is part of the university's Smart
Lighting Initiative, established in 2010 to reduce campus
electrical use by 30 million kilowatt hours - or to 60
percent of 2007 levels - by 2015. The new outdoor lights
promise to save the university $100,000 a year on
electricity, shrink its carbon footprint and make it a safer
place after dark.
"The face of the campus is changing, and the face of
California is changing. Exterior lighting is going to be
smart, safe and adaptive," said Michael Siminovitch,
director of the UC Davis California Lighting Technology
Center. "What we've done at UC Davis is massively
replicable, and it will have to be.
Recognizing that lighting accounts for about a quarter of all
electricity use statewide, California is expected to require
in 2014 that all new, nonresidential construction have
UC Davis unveiled its new outdoor lights on the first day of
the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference, a
five-day meeting that is bringing together nearly 1,000
people from 70 colleges and universities, mostly in
California, to share best practices in sustainable planning.
Adaptive lighting adjusts light levels to suit activity
levels, using such tools as occupancy sensors and multilevel
lighting. The new UC Davis project wirelessly connects more
than 1,400 energy efficient lights along pathways and
roadways to a main control area, so that lights that once
operated in solitude are now "talking" to each
other as part of a seamless web.
The lighting can be scheduled and adjusted for increased or
decreased levels of activity, such as during sporting events,
or to guide pedestrians along preferred routes. The system
senses occupants, whether on foot, bicycle or automobile,
predicts their direction of travel, and lights the path
ahead. The smart network also senses when areas are vacant,
then dims lights enough to save energy and reduce light
pollution, without compromising safety.
"Adaptive lighting means having the right levels when
you need them," said Keith Graeber, director of
engineering at the UC Davis California Lighting Technology
Center. "It's safe, secure and efficient. It's
So far, with the exterior lighting project roughly 80 percent
complete, the energy needed to light outside spaces on campus
is 58 percent less than it was five years ago, even as the
university has added buildings, students, faculty and staff.
When completed, the outdoor lighting network is projected to
save more than 1 million kWh of electricity annually --
enough to offset the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 135
cars and trucks. Completion is expected within the year.
Far greater savings will be realized when the campus installs
adaptive, networked lighting on the inside of campus
buildings - along corridors, inside restrooms, offices and
hallways - beginning later this year. When both inside and
outside lights are in place, UC Davis expects to see $3
million a year in annual electricity savings.
"We used to have a single on/off switch for these
lights," said David Phillips, director of UC Davis
Utilities. "Now, we have a coordinated network with
programmable, independent, fully dimmable switches. We turn
them on, and they all start chattering. They ask, 'Where am
I?' 'When should I light up and how much?' With
support from CLTC, UC Davis Design and Construction
Management, and our colleagues across the campus, we've
answered those questions. And we'll be able to
continually update the programming to make improvements over
Other University of California campuses are doing smaller
projects with exterior adaptive lighting, including UC Irvine
and UC Santa Cruz.
UC Davis Smart Lighting projects are based on innovations
developed or refined by the campus's California Lighting
Technology Center and implemented by UC Davis Facilities
Management. Many of these technologies were developed in
partnership with the California Energy Commission's
Public Interest Energy Research program.
The projects have included upgraded fixtures in campus
parking structures, and smart lighting projects in
administrative offices, Shields Library, various residence
halls, classrooms and bathrooms.
The California Statewide Energy Partnership Program provided
$4 million to help fund the initiative. The balance will be
paid for through annual energy savings.
"I am so proud that UC Davis and CLTC are partnering on
finding solutions to critical issues of energy
conservation," said Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the
Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, which
encompasses Siminovitch's Department of Design. "The
innovations tested here will make a huge difference.