Iona College Becomes More Energy Efficient

Colleges and universities in the United States spend an average of $1.10 per square foot on electricity, with lighting representing approximately 31% of energy consumption of a typical classroom building. These costs can balloon within campus buildings where lighting is left on for extended periods of the day (libraries, classrooms, dorm hallways), creating a significant expense each year for academic institutions.

In 2013, Iona College, a private university located in New Rochelle, New York, began seeking ways to become more energy efficient, focusing on overall campus lighting in order to manage energy costs. An operating division of a Connecticut-based lighting company won an initial bid for a single project to install LED lighting within a campus parking structure to show the significant benefits of this lighting technology.

“Lighting accounts for nearly a third of the $7 billion in annual energy and utility cost spend by U.S. colleges and universities annually. LED lighting is sixty percent more efficient than fluorescent lighting, signaling a key opportunity for higher education to collectively save $1.3 billion annually through improved lighting efficiency,” said Ron Young, Managing Partner. “Through a careful assessment of Iona’s existing infrastructure, we are able to determine the best scope and LED solution to capture key ‘low hanging fruit’ opportunities that actively reduces long term operational costs.”

Updating a Campus Parking Structure

Iona’s initial program within a campus parking structure replaced existing fluorescent lighting with T8 LED tubes improving energy efficiency by 60%. In addition, LED lighting offers a significantly longer life expectancy (up to 70,000 hours compared to 15,000 hours), to provide both energy and maintenance cost savings.

Results of the LED lighting upgrade were immediate, reducing the parking structure’s monthly energy use by 56%, from 14,976 kWh to only 6,588 kWh. In addition, the garage reduced overall energy demand from 30.06kW to only 11.70kW, achieving a 61% reduction. “The measured results from the parking structure retrofit provided key insight to show the significant impact of LED lighting, and confidence that the technology would yield a return on investment in only 18 months. This initial project became a catalyst for future retrofits, working with Tri-State LED, to expand the use of LED lighting throughout Iona’s campus,” said Mark Murphy, Director of Facilities, Iona College.

Parking facilities offer a tremendous energy reduction and cost savings opportunity – garage owners across the U.S. spend $6 billion annually on lighting, mostly due to safety as they leave lights on 24/7. Utilizing LED lighting within parking structures allows Iona to be cost effective while increasing light output through LED’s greater efficacy (Lumens/Watt) to ensure greater safety for its students and faculty.

Moving to Other Projects

Following the success of the parking garage installation, Iona and the same company have engaged in other LED projects across campus, installing LED tubes, high bay fixtures, lamp post replacements, and lay-in 2×2/2×4 fixtures. Utilizing its on-site facility management team, Iona’s staffed electricians installed more than $285,000 in LED lamps and fixtures, retrofitting a parking garage, residence halls, gymnasium and a cafeteria. In addition, all exterior light poles were retrofit with high efficiency/high output LED lamps to ensure greater illumination and safety throughout its walkable campus.

Iona’s success is evident, based on company estimates; annual savings from this LED retrofit program total $165,000, and the program is already cash positive with total cumulative savings exceeding $335,000. These cost savings have enabled Iona to reinvest toward additional LED projects, expanding the integration of superior lighting technology across Iona’s campus facilities. “We continue to reinvest these efficiency savings into additional LED opportunities throughout the campus to ensure our lighting is as energy efficient as possible,” said Murphy. “

The benefits of LED lighting have been well documented – more efficient, longer lamp life, superior photometrics, elimination of UV radiation and visible lamp light depreciation to increase motivation, and a more optimal lighting experience that improves concentration and productivity for students. Perhaps even more importantly, LED lighting solutions allow universities and colleges to save money – a primary project goal that the company was able to help Iona achieve, while encouraging environmental best practices and enhancing well-being and safety for its students and faculty.

About the Author
Jay Black is the Vice President of Development and Communications for Revolution Lighting Technology, a leader in the design, manufacturing, marketing, and sale of LED lighting solutions. For more information visit or