Jul 8, 2013, 2:45pm EDT Updated: Jul 8, 2013, 4:41pm EDT
Staff Writer- Triangle Business Journal
The UNC system is preparing a vast overhaul of lighting at 13 of its campuses, a $25 million investment that administrators say will bring at least $3.5 million in annual savings.
The project is using light-emitting diodes developed by Cree Inc. (Nasdaq: CREE), of Durham. The UNC system has hired Johnson Controls Inc. (NYSE: JCI) as the general contractor for the project, whose $25 million cost includes installation and backlit signs, according to Miriam Tripp, special projects offer for UNC General Administration.
The 13 campuses include N.C. Central University, in Durham; the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, a public boarding school in Durham for talented 11th- and 12th-graders; and East Carolina University in Greenville. UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University, as larger campuses, are acting individually on their own energy-efficiency projects.
N.C. State’s include Bragaw Residence Hall, whose 1,500 LEDs made it the largest-ever LED installation at a U.S. college dorm when it was completed in 2009. N.C. State’s Wolf Ridge residence hall will have more than 4,000 LEDs when it opens this fall, spokesman Mick Kulikowski says. Cree actually began as a sort of spinoff from the university.
Senate Bill 668, passed in 2007, mandates that state-owned buildings must cut their electricity use per square foot to an average of 70 percent of their 2002-03 levels.
“We took the steps to consolidate that kind of need for some of the smaller campuses,” Tripp says.
The UNC System is borrowing the $25 million and then paying it off with the $3.5 million it expects to save on electricity costs, Tripp says. The annual savings will be greater if electricity rates rise, as they’re expected to do.
Cree shares fell 3 percent to close at $67.16 on Monday, as the broader Nasdaq index remained flat.
Chris Bagley covers the legal-services industry, transportation and utilities. Follow him on Twitter @TriBizLaw