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Bright Idea: Breckinridge Hall Saving Energy, Money With LED Upgrade

By Whitney Harder

(Feb. 26, 2015) — While the many new facilities being constructed on the University of Kentucky campus are utilizing cutting edge green building techniques, some of these advances can also be used to illuminate the charm of existing buildings. This is the case with Breckinridge Hall, an 85-year old building that recently received a complete overhaul of its lighting system.

Britney Thompson, the energy engineer for the UK Campus Physical Plant Division and project lead for the Breckinridge Hall lighting upgrade, believes it is the first building on UK’s campus to get a full LED retrofit. This upgrade in Breckinridge Hall will drastically reduce energy use, improve the quality and level of light, save money, and give UK personnel experience adapting the new fixtures to older buildings.  

The amount of energy needed to light Breckinridge Hall has dropped by about 63 percent (from 170,000 kilowatt-hours to 62,500 kilowatt-hours) as a result of the project, and energy savings combined with avoided maintenance will save the university about $12,000 a year, bringing the return on investment to approximately 10 years.

"The occupants at Breckinridge Hall are quite pleased with the new look and safer environment the new lighting creates," Thompson said. "For instance, each of the LED fixtures in the hallways has an occupancy sensor and dimmer, and after 15 minutes of inactivity, the lights will dim to 10 percent."

Thompson says much of the new construction on campus is implementing LED fixtures, and she is looking at options to do additional retrofits on other existing facilities.

"Breckinridge will serve as an excellent test case to see how the new technologies perform, and if it is successful we will be much more apt to seek out other locations to upgrade," she said.

Breckinridge Hall, located on the west side of the quadrangle bounded by Funkhouser Drive, Rose Street, and Washington Avenue, contains various offices, including the offices of the Department of Gender and Women's Studies and the Survey Research Center. It was completed in 1930 as a dormitory and named for W. C. P. Breckinridge.