Energy Conservation Technologies


With more than 600 buildings on the main campus alone, the amount of energy used for lighting rapidly becomes a factor in the University of Illinois’ energy usage. Thanks to two major initiatives, campus has made great strides in energy-efficient lighting.

T-8 Fluorescent Technology


The Campus Lighting Retrofit Project replaced older T-12 fluorescent lamps and ballasts with T-8 fixtures. These fixtures use 40% less energy and avoid more than $2.1M in energy costs annually. With grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, student Academic Facilities Maintenance Fee Assessment, and Student Sustainability Council, the university replaced more than 147,000 fixtures.

LED Technology

LED Lighting

U of I’s relationship with light emitting diode technology goes back decades to when the inventor of the first practical visible-spectrum LED, alumnus Nick Holonyak, Jr., joined the faculty in 1963.

Illinois has committed to becoming the first major research university to use the technology as its primary source of all lighting by 2050. This transformation began in 2008 with exit signs, and by 2011 included a Big Ten collaboration to reduce energy consumption in parking lots. Each year, hundreds of LEDs are installed in campus buildings ranging from cattle barns to engineering labs, classrooms to residence halls, and museums to sports facilities. Funding for these projects has come from the Office of the Provost and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. 

Campus’ LED commitments are reflected in the Illinois Climate Action Plan with clear direction for implementation. Additionally the university encourages research and development to expand LED technology applications by using campus facilities as living-learning laboratories.

Energy Recovery Systems

University laboratories must bring in significant amounts of outdoor air to provide proper ventilation for many research processes. However, doing so can greatly increase building energy use for heating and cooling. Energy recovery systems add a portion of the building’s already heated or cooled, clean exhaust air to its incoming outdoor air. This reduces the building’s overall heating and cooling load. These projects have been installed with campus’ Deferred Maintenance program and energy grant incentives.  

Two Energy Recovery Wheels