Illuminating Greenville County Schools’ Energy Management Department

Challenge: With 101 schools and centers and almost 77,000 students, Greenville County Schools, located in Greenville, SC, is the 44th largest school district in the United States.  Next to salaries for staff, utility costs are the district’s second highest expense. In an effort to improve its portfolio of facilities, the District’s Energy Management Department developed and delivered an energy conservation program designed to realize significant monetary savings and negate any negative impact on the environment. This Energy Management program has provided faculty and staff with energy saving methods and ideas that have changed habits and formed new ones for the better.

The Energy Management Department saw an opportunity to realize significant savings by retrofitting the existing lighting in a large portion of its schools with energy efficient LED fixtures. With cost being an important factor, proposed products underwent a thorough evaluation to ensure the selected LED fixtures would accomplish three key metrics.

One, they would provide foot candle levels that adhere to the requirements set forth by the South Carolina office of School Facilities.

Two, maintenance staff would be able to simply install these fixtures across a range of ceiling infrastructure types.

Three, the fixtures would perform as advertised over time and not fail prematurely once installed.

These established benchmarks were non-negotiable, and any performance or longevity deviation would have negative consequences on the comprehensive project.

Solution: Due to the size and scope of the 70 facilities eligible for the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) funding, the Energy Management Department employed numerous engineers, contractors and vendors, including (but not limited to) Essential LightingBurdette EngineeringCarolina Architectural Lighting (“CAL+D”) and Current Lighting.  The task set before them was to design and implement the best possible individual lighting solutions for each of the eligible facilities. 

Current Lighting features a portfolio of specialized brands that have products and expertise to meet the need of any application. While the size and scope of the QZAB project required the utilization of a variety of products by multiple brands, there are many applications where solutions from Current Lighting are being used, including:

  • Columbia Lighting and Alera products meet the needs of restrooms, classrooms, offices and common areas.
  • Downlights from Prescolite and linear solutions from Litecontrol are used in specialty rooms and central lobby areas.
  • Current Industrial Solutions products are used in gymnasiums.
  • Outdoor lighting solutions range from architectural with KIM Lighting and AAL, to more commercial needs with Beacon Products and Current Outdoor Lighting. 
  • Safety is paramount and Dual-Lite has all the needs for emergency lighting covered.

Benefit: The performance of the LEDs has exceeded expectations and the standards set forth in the design of the project. Once all 70 schools have been retrofitted with LEDs, the Energy Management Department expects the district to increase its realized annual energy cost avoidance which currently stands at nearly $6M per year.  

While there are a handful of utilities serving the District, QZAB qualified schools served by Duke Energy will receive a rebate thanks to their use of DesignLights Consortium (“DLC”) qualified products.

Greenville County Schools expects to re-capture additional funds by alleviating the need to replace lamps and ballasts for the foreseeable future in more than eight million square feet of space touched by this project.

Just as important as the cost savings is how the new lighting solution is benefiting the stakeholders that occupy the space. Students, faculty and staff have enjoyed the improved aesthetics of these facilities and many have noted anecdotally that it has contributed to positive enthusiasm.

Greenville Middle Academy

The SLK from Columbia is the primary source for illumination in all the classrooms, hallways and stairwells.

Greenville High School

The Pierwalk from Beacon Products enhances the ambiance of the food court by bringing the same outdoor fixtures into the interior.

The Pierwalk from Beacon Products is the hero fixture on the exterior and draws visitors into the main entry area.

Sterling School

The LP7 from Alera features a classic rectangular form, which easily integrates and illuminates the central hallways leading to the front office.

The UTB from Current Industrial Lighting is the primary lighting source in the gymnasium.

The LP7 from Alera is being used to illuminate the Media Center.

The compact and sleek design of the Airo from Current Outdoor Lighting is used to light the parking and walkway areas.

Rudolph Gordon Elementary

The MOD™ 4L LED Recessed Slot from Litecontrol is being used to provide an architectural look in one of the facility’s common areas.

The MOD™ 4L LED Pendant Indirect/Direct from Litecontrol is being used in the Media Center and skills workshop to bring depth and a contemporary feel to the open areas.   

AJ Whittenberg

Ouro from KIM Lighting is used to bring proportion to the parking lot, drive lanes and pathways.