- Associated Press - Thursday, September 25, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The bright lights shining on UConn’s national champion basketball programs will become more energy efficient and versatile.

The school’s Board of Trustees this week approved a plan to spend $546,000 to replace the lighting system inside Gampel Pavilion with one that uses energy-efficient LED lights.

The long-lasting bulbs will reduce energy consumption by about 75 percent and maintenance costs by about 80 percent because they won’t have to be changed for about 10 years, said Stanley Nolan, director of Utility Services & Energy Management.

The system will replace 216 lamps that use 995,000-kilowatt hours of electricity a year with 100 LED lamps that can provide the same amount of light.

The new system also will have an entertainment value, allowing for strobe effects, color changes and the ability to be dimmed during player introductions.

“The teams have been asking for this for years,” said Evan Feinglass, the school’s associate athletic director in charge of facilities management and planning. “They go on the road and see these light shows with music and the whole thing. We just haven’t had the ability to do that before.”

It’s the largest single piece of a campuswide renewable strategic energy plan that has already resulted in the installation of LED lighting in outdoor street lights, more than 120 campus buildings and at Sherman field, where the school holds track and field, field hockey and other outdoor events, Nolan said.

The school projects the campuswide changes will result in saving more than 4 million-kilowatt hours of electricity and $500,000 in energy costs per year, while reducing the school’s carbon footprint.

The project will be paid for with money from the UConn Renewable Energy Credit Fund and is eligible for rebates from the power company.

Nolan said it will pay for itself in a relatively short period of time.

“The simple pay-back period is right at four years, without any rebates from the utilities,” he said. “And typically the utilities are picking up about 50 percent of the cost of doing these change outs, just because of the energy efficiency.”

Feinglass said the school is requesting proposals from contractors and expects the work to take about two weeks to complete.

He said the switch likely will be done either over winter break, or later in the spring so it does not disrupt the upcoming basketball season.

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