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Attracted by both the economic and environmental benefits of utilizing indoor LED lighting, numerous universities in North Carolina are signing on to an energy efficiency pact that includes the high-performing LED bulbs manufactured by Cree, Inc.

The University of North Carolina knew that it had work to do when it vowed to reduce its energy use by $25 million over the next seven years. But the scope of the massive undertaking is becoming a more manageable with the partnerships UNC has made with its 13 campuses and Cree. By adopting the LED lighting technologies made by Cree, specifically the CR24 architectural LED troffer, the General Administration of UNC hopes to dramatically decrease its energy use across the more than 27 million square feet of university-owned real estate.

“The UNC lighting installation will be a great showcase for how entire university systems can leverage LED lighting to reduce operating expenses and create well-illuminated spaces from classrooms to dormitories and beyond,” said Mike Bauer, vice president of lighting sales at Cree. “We’re pleased to work with UNC to help deliver the energy savings necessary to meet their sustainability goals.”

Some of the energy project participants include Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, Western Carolina University, the North Carolina Department of Commerce Energy Office, Winston-Salem State University, Fayetteville State University, as well as the UNC Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Pembroke and School of the Arts campuses.

“This University-wide lighting project will help advance our energy reduction goals, lower maintenance expenses and improve ROI,” said Miriam Tripp, special projects officer at UNC General Administration. “Reducing energy consumption is the right thing to do for our environment, our students and the taxpayers who support us. Ultimately, the related cost savings enable UNC institutions to focus on our core mission of great teaching and research.”

Effective technology hits the market
The electronic-chip maker sent a shockwave through the LED industry by releasing an LED bulb priced under $10 – an industry game changer. Specifically, the CR24 LED troffers are designed to last up to 100,000 hours, complete with dimming capability with consistent, white light powered by Cree’s TrueWhite Technology. The quiet emergence of Cree has stirred up interest from investors.

“Since launching in March, we believe Cree’s consumer LED bulbs have experienced better-than-expected sales based on our channel checks,” Goldman Sachs noted in a report. “Additionally, feedback from investors suggests interest in Cree’s LED bulb opportunity is high, though overall sentiment remains divided, in our view. With a US phase-out of 40​ watt and 60 watt incandescent bulbs – the largest volume lighting category – starting in 2014, our sensitivity analysis suggests potential for medium-term sales and Earnings Per Share upside for Cree and we raise our CY14-CY15 estimates.”