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The Best Exit Sign Light Bulb for the Environment and your Wallet

  • May 19, 2020 12:51 PM
    Message # 8979697
    Newenka DuMont (Administrator)

    Midwest Academy for the Gifted, Chicago

  • May 19, 2020 3:37 PM
    Reply # 8980229 on 8979697
    Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    I liked your approach. Simple and practical advice, backed by solid research. So doable!

  • May 27, 2020 4:40 PM
    Reply # 8996422 on 8979697
    Kyle Burkybile

    Your team chose a good topic relating to exit signs and energy efficiency. I actually work on energy efficiency programs in Multi-Family residences for Northern Illinois and EE is one of the most cost-efficient ways to lower our greenhouse gas emissions. EE jobs are the largest portion of energy jobs by far and over 2 million people in the country were employed in this sector pre-Covid 19. 

    The consumer demand is definitely there for LED lighting, whether that be exit signs, TLEDs, regular A lamp bulbs, etc. But the upfront cost of purchase is oftentimes more of a barrier than it should be for short-sighted or cash-strapped property managers and business owners. When they are looking at overhauling entire buildings' lighting systems, the price tag could be thousands of dollars and the payback time could be a few years. Fortunately, in Illinois and in some other states, we have a great ratepayer-funded EE system set up where electric utilities like ComEd are able to offer lighting upgrades to customers for free or at highly reduced costs. Take a look at these programs from ComEd.  They save customers money on their energy bill, but they also allow for ComEd's grid to work smarter, not harder. By lowering overall electric demand, ComEd doesn't have to build new infrastructure and can do more with their existing resources. Everybody wins. 

    To keep these programs alive and well, we need to make sure we're supporting legislation like the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) in 2017 to great success, and we need to continue letting our elected officials know we should fund programs like exit sign replacement that lower our energy demand and the carbon footprint of our state. 

    One thing I think your team should consider when explaining this pitch to people is - why is an LED more efficient/cost effective? I would suggest having a slide dedicated to showing how LED technology saves that energy and money. Incandescent bulbs lose most of their energy as heat (80%+), which is why you can't touch those lights without burning your hand. LEDs use a different process that doesn't give off lost energy as heat and it does not contain mercury, therefore it is also more efficient and safer than CFLs.  

    Overall, great job and I'm glad that you're already interested in these types of things. I encourage you to continue your research on this and dig into the different technology of Incandescents, CFLs, and LEDs even more and with a wide lens on how to support EE programs. 

  • May 28, 2020 10:49 AM
    Reply # 8998231 on 8979697
    Rowland Davis, Chicago member

    Like Kyle, I am a member of in Chicago, and we are excited to review your work. Unlike Kyle, I am NOT an actual expert on energy efficiency -- but I think Kyle's response is spot on, especially in terms of using current utility company tools that might be available to push the idea forward. As your research showed, trying to change the rules one town at a time would probably be very hard.

    I like that you took a very particular issue, and worked through the important details very carefully. Details matter -- and doing environmental analysis can get pretty messy!

    One idea to expand  your work might be to make a rough estimate of how many exit signs there might be in Illinois for some categories of buildings. For example, schools -- how many are there in the state, and on average how many exit lights might be in each school. Other public buildings like hospitals also have many exit lights. This would give someone a feel for how big the efficiency gains could become, in total.

    One other area to explore might be the use of an "electroluminescent display" or ELD.  I don't know how much these much these might cost, but I have a hunch that they are very efficient in terms of electric power usage. It combines the concept of efficiency with the concept of using new technology.

  • May 30, 2020 4:17 PM
    Reply # 9003670 on 8979697
    Lisa Albrecht

    Great presentation and I’m impressed by the age range of the team.

    This was well laid out stating the objective, the methodology, results and conclusions. Very concise and clear.  As commented on the application and impact of the science, I will focus on minor details about data representation. 

    The table on page 6 shows the type of bulb along the side but further tables show the bulbs across the top. This is a very minor point but it helps the reader make logical conclusions without transposing the data in their mind.  It is minor but helpful to show consistency in how the data is represented.  

    On that same slide, Lamp Life is reported in hours for 2 bulbs but in years for LED.  Even though 87,600 hours is ridiculously large by comparison, keeping the same scale reinforces your point further.  You can always provide a translation into years if you want to then show what that means in relatable terms.  Keeping metrics apples to apples is important in comparing data consistently. 

    Thank you too for outlining the project challenges and providing more information about the team and MAGE.  No one really knows more how challenging these times are than students.  Good luck and hang in there!  Way to perceiver. 

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