Vail Gets Greener With LED Lighting

When the city of Vail, Colorado wanted to cut it’s energy use in 2010 it conducted an energy audit of the towns 16 public buildings. After receiving results from the audit, the choice of where the city should start making changes was obvious. The city’s two parking garages, the Vail Village and Lionshead parking garages, were responsible for 43 percent of the cities energy use.

In late September the city started replacing over 1,000 light fixtures in the garages with energy efficient LED lighting. The upgrade to LED’s is costing the city $1.4 million dollars, but is expected to save Vail $63,000 annually while reducing greenhouse emissions by 670 tons per year. By signing a multi- project contract with Johnson Controls Inc. and joining the Performance Contracting program through the Governor’s Energy Office, the town was able to make the upgrades with no upfront costs. Energy savings and reduced maintenance costs from the upgrade will pay for the costs of the improvements.

While installing or upgrading to LED lighting may seem expensive at first, the reduced energy costs and near elimination of maintenance costs quickly recovers the upfront price. After that the savings in energy and maintenance costs continues for many years. LED lighting may still be to expensive for some applications, but for applications where the lights need to be left on for many hours a day or use battery power they make sense., Parking garages or interior lighting in public buildings are excellent choices for LED lighting as are motor home lighting and underwater boat lights.

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