It’s not all that often students have the chance to participate in the actual installation of new technology, but that is exactly what happened at the North Carolina Zoo this past fall.
LED innovator, Cree, Inc., partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide an opportunity for the students of Asheboro High School to work with Cree and local officials to upgrade the North Carolina Zoo’s multipurpose room through the installation of LED lights.
The project honored the USGBC Center for Green Schools’ Green Apple Day of Service, an international day of service meant to raise awareness about the importance of creating healthy, safe and productive learning environments for students and gives parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into optimal learning environments through local service projects.
“Installing new Cree LED lighting is a way to teach students, teachers and administrators the importance of sustainable classrooms and how these features benefit the learning environment,” says Emily Scofield, director, Community, U.S. Green Building Council – North Carolina Chapter, in an email response.
USGBC and Cree, Inc. became aware of the Zoo’s need for a lighting upgrade in its multipurpose room when John Casadonte, vertical marketing manager for lighting at Cree, Inc., visited the Zoo to learn how the company could benefit the Zoo’s educational program.
“In one of my conversations with the team there, I thought about this zoo school area where a great deal of time is dedicated every day to bringing high school students in for educational purposes. They attend all different types of classes there, and it just so happens that it takes place in this multipurpose room. It’s a very big area and it not only houses kids from an educational point of view, but there are also entertainment events that take place for the benefit of the zoo,” says Casadonte.
According to Casadonte, the multipurpose room was in great need of a lighting upgrade. The room was lit using a technology called metal halide, a unique light that is not typically found indoors.
“When [metal halide] is used indoors, it goes through a metamorphosis over its lifetime and it ends up throwing all types of strange light. So there was an opportunity to replace a room that had really unique light that was not very traditional,” says Casadonte.
Cree offered new LED fixtures to be installed in the multipurpose room by onsite electricians, and students who were interested in the discussion of energy efficiency and sustainable operations and maintenance were invited to see a demonstration of the installation.
“These students were exposed to future career paths and business discussions on the economic benefits of energy efficiency provided by LED lighting,” says Scofield. “The students were truly engaged in the project and the teachers shared that the students were exposed to an aspect of energy efficiency which they otherwise would not have known.”