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Ackland Art Museum now can be seen in a new light.

The renowned museum at UNC last month celebrated its transition to 100 percent LED lighting – a money-saving, energy-conscious move that also enhances spectators’ views of the exhibits.

“Our staff did a great deal of research to make sure that the switch to LED would not only save energy, but would also be the right decision for our works of art,” said Emily Kass, Ackland’s director. “The new LED lighting dramatically improves our visitors’ experience, as the art works’ colors are more accurate and vivid.”

The museum worked with the campus’ Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee to explore ways the Ackland could reduce its energy consumption. RESPC paid approximately $52,000 dollars to fully fund the transition of gallery lights to more efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs from Durham-based LED innovator Cree, Inc.

With less heat being produced by the more than 400 Cree LED lights, the Ackland’s HVAC systems run more efficiently, especially in the summer months, further reducing its electricity consumption and carbon emissions.

Cree estimates the new lights will use 117,000 fewer kilowatt hours per year and will save the museum, and thus UNC, more than $13,000 dollars annually.

“The Renewable Energy Special Projects Committee is always looking for new areas of the UNC campus in which to reduce energy consumption,” said RESPC co-chair Piya Kerdlap, whose student organization manages the funds raised by the $4-dollar-per-semester Student Renewable Energy Fee. “Not only did the Ackland have great potential for saving energy, but it presented an opportunity for our organization to reach out to a more diverse audience and raise awareness about the importance of energy efficiency and conservation.”

The museum estimates an energy savings of 87 percent per year over the previous lighting, resulting in a reduction of 73 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

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Published June 8, 2013.