Delamping project saves $15,000 annually at UH Manoa building

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
David Nixon, 956-7718
Sustainable Saunders Initiative
Posted: Nov 17, 2008

A project by the Sustainable Saunders Initiative to save energy by "delamping" or reducing building lighting, will save Saunders Hall at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa about $15,000 a year.

The savings were accomplished at no cost by removing over 2,000 bulbs from Saunders Hall light fixtures, as a way to cut energy use and improve workplace conditions.

Sustainable Saunders is an initiative in the Social Science Public Policy Center at UH Mānoa, comprised of students and faculty, that conducts research on sustainable practices and promotes successful projects for adoption elsewhere. UH Mānoa is facing significant budget woes, in part due to higher electricity bills.

The Sustainable Saunders team surveyed the building occupants and found that overly bright lights were a major complaint. The team took detailed measurements and found that lighting levels at Saunders were better suited for a surgeon‘s operating table instead of a typical office, causing headaches and eyestrain. The building exceeded healthy lighting levels based on OSHA standards by a factor of 4 in many areas.

The completion of the project follows a successful pilot test conducted among 30 offices earlier this summer. Following the pilot tests, virtually every test subject reported better satisfaction with their office lighting, and there were substantial drops in the number of people reporting stress, eyestrain, and headaches.

Jeremy Kowalczyk, graduate student in Physics and the delamping coordinator for Sustainable Saunders summed it up: "All of Sustainable Saunders' projects must meet a triple bottom line; they improve the community, decrease our impact on the environment, and make economic sense. This project, made possible by the efforts of 17 student volunteers, meet all three requirements by improving the working conditions in the building, using ~60,000 kW-hr less energy per year, and saving ~$15,000 per year."

David Nixon, Associate Professor and Principal Investigator for the Sustainable Saunders Initiative, added that "this project is just one demonstration of the remarkable things this program could be accomplishing campus-wide. The Public Policy Center has proposed a funding scheme to make this program self-financing, as is done at many other universities."


Project report:

Sustainable Saunders website:

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