It is hard to refute the benefits of LED lighting upgrades – energy efficiency, long life, no maintenance, and minimal heat, etc. But in many instances the school board members and key decision makers get discouraged by the seemingly high upfront costs. What they don’t realize is that the non-utility benefits far outweigh the energy and maintenance savings.
Image Credit: South Lincoln School
A wide array of research links improvement in the classroom environment to higher student performance and attendance. Proper lighting in the form of color, illumination levels, and glare reduction, remains to be an integral part of that classroom environment.
Since LED lighting can be fully adjusted based on the application, it is the only type of light that has the ability to be used effectively to better the student experience in today’s classrooms. Additionally, LED lighting does not have the flicker of fluorescent lighting, which eliminates associated migraines, headaches, eye strain, and stress/anxiety. In turn, LED lighting is significantly better for long-term student health, especially in kids with learning disabilities like ADD and ADHD.
These reduced lighting-related migraines, anxiety and distractions translate to an increase in student attendance year over year.
In the US, average school spending per pupil per day equals to approximately $50*. A small increase of 1% in attendance due to an improved environment will result in a $90,000 financial benefit to a school with 1,000 students. The math is as follows: 1% x $50 x 180 days in the school year x 1,000 students.
Now let us run through a project scenario:
School size: 100,000 Square Feet
Attendance: 1,500 Students
Current Lighting = Fluorescent T8 Tubes and U-Bend Fixtures, Canned Lighting, and Metal Halide Wall Packs
New Solution = LED Panels, Down Lights, and Wall Packs
Investment = $115,000
Utility Rebates and Incentives = $60,000
Net Investment = $55,000
Annual Energy Savings = $12,000
Annual Maintenance Savings = $2,500
Payback Period = 3 years, 10 months
One of the most important and highly scrutinized figures when evaluating a project is the payback period. In this case, the project holds a payback period of 3 years and 10 months. However, a 1% increase in attendance due to better lighting yields $135,000 in financial benefit to the school.
The payback period has now been reduced to 5 months.
* – Calculated based on the government figures provided at http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html