Case Study Details

LOCATION: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN


It All Adds Up as One of the Nation’s Largest Public Universities Saves 90% on Energy with LED

The University of Minnesota’s (U of M) Twin Cities campus is home to more than 51,000 students. To address energy consumption and usage in its expansive facility, U of M developed the “It All Adds Up” program to find new and innovative ways to bring low-emission and renewable energy sources to its campuses.

When assessing its energy usage across campus, the University identified its illuminated stairwells as a potential savings opportunity. At the time, many of the stairwells were fully illuminated 24 hours per day throughout 120 buildings across campus.

The Path to Discovery

In 2010, the University decided to experiment with lighting solutions that could help address its overuse of stairwell lighting.

“While we were working on the project, we learned there were actually additional innovative ways to make even more energy saving improvements,” said Blaine O’Brien, senior energy auditor for Energy Management, a division of Facilities Management at U of M. “We were introduced to an LED luminaire concept that featured integrated occupancy sensors and dimmers. For us, this was a great match in technology.”

The University placed “people counters” in stairwells to measure traffic throughout the day and night, which validated that the investment in LED lighting integrated with occupancy control was a cost effective option.

Stepping Up

The U of M energy management team was introduced to the W Series LED wall bracket and surface mount luminaries from Lithonia Lighting®. W Series LED luminaires are integrated with dual technology micro-sensors for occupancy sensing and optional sequential controls.

The lighting upgrade would replace T8, T12 and compact fluorescent fixtures, as well as HID sources in both indoor and outdoor stairwells, back hallways and corridors across the entire campus.

Reaching the Goal

In August 2012, the campus-wide lighting installation process began with Phase I on the West Bank of campus and continued through two additional phases. A total of 961 fixtures were replaced on the West Bank. The fixtures produce an estimated annual energy savings of 379,392 kilowatt hours, which equates to more than $30,000 annually – just on the West Bank, approximately one fifth of the campus. The LED lighting integrated with digital controls now reduces the energy consumed in stairwells by 90 percent.

Once the University completes Phase II and Phase III, nearly 6,000 W Series LED luminaires will illuminate stairwells in 120 buildings across campus.

 For more information on the W Series, visit