FES View: Making Smart Energy Easy

Gabriela Anez-Lobon
By Gabriela Anez-Lobon on February 16, 2021

Is Switching to LED Lighting Right for Schools?

Energy costs are the second highest expense for US schools, just behind salaries. Juggling such large energy expenses takes away from the attention and budget schools could focus toward students.

Switching schools to LED lighting as part of a smarter energy management plan can instantly reduce this burden. In addition to reducing expenses, better lighting increases academic performance and campus safety.

Learn about the benefits of LED lighting for schools with our Complete Commercial Guide to LED Lighting.

The Impact of LED Lighting for Schools

The cost of energy for K-12 schools alone is $6 billion. In higher education facilities, it costs roughly $100K in energy each year to power a 50K square foot campus.

The larger the campus, the higher this expense. 

Exploring LED lighting for schools is an important part of efficient energy management on campuses. LED lights reduce energy expenses, create better learning environments and are a key sustainability initiative critical to healing our planet.

Lighting is essential to operating a school campus. Between classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums, parking lots, walkways and offices – the average school’s lighting infrastructure includes 600 lighting fixtures running for:

  • At least 13.5 hours a day
  • 260 days a year or more
  • An average cost of $0.12 per kWh

Why LED Lighting Matters for Schools

An energy audit can help schools immediately identify hidden savings across their campus. In addition to these necessary savings, LED lights can help schools manage:

  • Student productivity
  • Sustainability 
  • Overall costs
  • Community impact

Learn more about how schools are preparing for a brighter tomorrow in our education webinar

Student Productivity

Simply put, healthier students are more productive students. LED lighting helps schools address several factors that support a healthy learning environment.

  • Light quality: Students in brighter lit classrooms generally get higher grades than those in dimly lit spaces. LED lighting delivers bright, consistent output that creates an ideal environment for learning. In one study, LED lights led to an 8% increase in cognitive performance. 
  • Temperature: Room temperature directly impacts learning. LED lights are cooler than other types of commercial lighting. They emit less ambient heat and are cooler to the touch which reduces potential safety hazards of touching hot bulbs. 


LED lighting in schools is a greener choice than other types of lighting. By reducing energy consumption, LEDs lessen campus demand on the energy grid while also reducing energy consumption by an average of 60%.

In a sample of 200 campuses, LED lighting solutions reduced CO2 emissions by 33 million lbs. 

Between lighting hallways for 13.5 hours a day, plus after school events and activities, school lighting needs to be reliable. LED lights have an average lamp lifetime of 50,000+ hours. This means even with 24/7 use, less bulbs end up in landfills.

Energy Costs

Because of the always-on lighting requirements for campuses, high energy costs may seem unavoidable. This is simply not true.

The type of lights a school uses can greatly reduce overall energy costs. LED lighting uses 25 to 80% less energy and can help schools cut their lighting-related energy budgets by about 60%.

See how the Lowellville K-12 School in Lowellville, OH saved over $32,000 a year by switching its campus to LED lights

Community Impact

By providing a positive learning environment, schools create a lasting impact on their communities. Simply upgrading the lighting in student classrooms can immediately impact productivity, focus, and grades. As students are empowered to learn, they take these skills with them back into the surrounding community.

A commitment to sustainability and creating a better future can also help schools attract more students to their district. Families have become accustomed to options when it comes to education. As they review their public, charter, and private schools for the right fit, a commitment to better futures for all through sustainable practices stands out. 

How Schools Can Upgrade Affordably

Campuses have complex lighting systems and various types of spaces to light, including:

  • Classrooms
  • Science and technology labs
  • Lecture halls
  • Offices
  • Athletic fields
  • Walkways
  • Parking lots

Upgrading to LED lighting across all these different areas can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, there are options available that make LED lighting for schools affordable. Some schools can qualify for instant energy savings, and the right partner can help other schools find cost-effective ways to make this important upgrade. 

FES Lighting, for instance, has a zero capital lighting-as-a-service solution that helps K-12 schools switch to LED lights without using any of their annual budgets. 

What to Look For in a Lighting Provider

School environments often require specialized LED fixtures to ensure each space is lit correctly. It’s important to choose an LED lighting partner with experience in the education sector. The right provider understands the nuances of student needs, campus safety, and community health. 

FES Lighting has partnered with more than 200 schools to implement energy efficient, cost-reducing LED lighting strategies on their campuses. To date, that’s over $1.1M in savings for these schools who can use this money to re-invest in education and extracurriculars.  

Ready to make the jump to LED lighting for your school and not sure where to start? Read this Complete Commercial Guide to LED Lighting to learn more.

guide to commercial led lighting

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Published by Gabriela Anez-Lobon February 16, 2021
Gabriela Anez-Lobon

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