UIC in the Dark

Image result for motion sensor light switch saving energy


  • Determine the amount of light switches in every bathroom, hallway, classroom, meeting room, and office
  • Determine the locations in which lighting is mostly needed, used, and wasted
  • Taking the prior information, determine the amount of motion-sensor light switches needed in total
  • Estimated time to replace one light switch: 2o minutes; multiply that amount by the determined motion-sensor light switch total


From my experience at UIC thus far, I have come to realize that the campus is in need of a variety of projects to improve its overall sustainability. One of my suggestions is, in my opinion, a smaller and very doable project in comparison to everything else that the campus genuinely needs. That is to replace a vast amount of UIC’s lights to have motion-sensor light switches. Although most lighting at UIC has LED light bulbs, almost every single light at UIC is left turned on throughout the day, night, and weekends– UIC is about 240 acres big, so the campus’s light energy alone creates a ginormous amount of waste and unnecessarily adds on towards light pollution in the urban environment. Replacing every light switch to be motion-sensor would create an energy-efficient campus by enforcing our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions  while saving hundreds of dollars per year that can be put into other sustainability projects.

Some might argue that motion-sensor lighting would not necessarily be beneficial; a motion-sensor light switch itself uses energy at about $0.22 per month. But because UIC is such a large, public space, with thousands of lights that are left on during the day, night, and weekends, it will be beneficial in the long run. If there are about 1,000 LED light bulbs on campus, for example, that are on 24 hours a day, that are using up 14 kilowatts per hour at $0.10 per kWh, it costs about $12.27 per year for one light bulb and $12,270 for the 1,000 bulbs. However, for 1,000 motion-sensor switches installed on campus, it would only cost $2,640 per year to be run constantly.

For safety reasons, some switches are necessary to keep on during campus hours, such as certain hallways of lecture halls and dorms, specific parts of the library and SCE building, and perhaps other certain low-traffic areas.


One motion-sensor light switch can range from $8-30, multiply that amount by the aforementioned determined light switches around the campus, along with reusable circuit testers, wire strips, and other tools used to install the sensors, and the labor cost of UIC maintenance workers.


  1. http://energy.gov/energysaver/lighting-controls
  2. http://uicenergy.com/
  3. https://us130urbansustainability.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/uic-climate-commitments-aspirational-goals-and-action-items.pdf
  4. http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/uic-1776
  5. https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=motion+detecting+light+switch&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=65651204696&hvpos=1t1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=460313567900134967&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9021662&hvtargid=kwd-1586291469&ref=pd_sl_on7edf2dk_b
  6. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/does-a-motion-activated-light-switch-save-money/
  7. http://energyusecalculator.com/electricity_cfllightbulb.htm

4 thoughts on “UIC in the Dark

  1. I love this idea! I would have to agree that I see lights on all the time in buildings very late at night when no ones even in them. Electricity is definitely a large expense. One thing that might be interesting if this had to be done one a smaller scale might be the dorm rooms. If the motion sensor lights have a switch as some of them do, then it would be ideal to have in the dorm rooms.


  2. I have not even realized that there are switched to the lights 🙂 I was so sure they would use motion-sensors… So yes, I totally agree with you, that should be changed. Yet it needs to be done wisely. A bad example are the motion-senors on the flushes in the restrooms, they go off just by walking by.
    Your post made me question the street lights on campus as well. I was wondering if they could be equipped with motion sensors as well? Would a particular street still be safe? Which are the effects? I did some research and found this:


    Apparently, by installing such a system in Paris, the city saved 35% of the energy used for street lightning… Definitely something to think about!


  3. This​ ​is​ ​an​ ​excellent​ ​idea!​ ​I​ ​was​ ​actually​ ​going​ ​to​ ​write​ ​about​ ​this​ ​project,​ ​I​ ​changed​ ​last​ ​minute
    but​ ​it​ ​makes​ ​me​ ​happy​ ​to​ ​know​ ​somebody​ ​else​ ​thinks​ ​that​ ​motion​ ​sensor​ ​lights​ ​are​ ​a​ ​must.​ ​If
    you​ ​think​ ​about​ ​it,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​some​ ​areas​ ​where​ ​students​ ​don’t​ ​even​ ​pass​ ​by,​ ​yet​ ​the​ ​energy​ ​is​ ​still
    being​ ​wasted.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​also​ ​classrooms​ ​and​ ​lecture​ ​rooms​ ​that​ ​remain​ ​empty,​ ​at​ ​a​ ​time​ ​for
    hours,​ ​with​ ​all​ ​the​ ​lights​ ​on.​ ​I​ ​agree,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​some​ ​places​ ​that​ ​definitely​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​lit​ ​all​ ​the
    times​ ​for​ ​security​ ​reasons,​ ​but​ ​tackling​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​areas​ ​with​ ​this​ ​issue​ ​will​ ​reduce​ ​energy
    usage​ ​and​ ​expenses​ ​by​ ​significant​ ​numbers.​ ​Tufts​ ​University​ ​has​ ​already​ ​made​ ​the​ ​switch​ ​and
    they’ve​ ​saved​ ​$91,930 in a couple of years.



  4. I think that this is something that defiantly needs to be done in order to save more energy. I think that putting motion sensor lights in all the bathrooms would be a great way to start. Something that could be done along side this would be to install daylight responsive controls in areas that are already provided with a large amount of daylight so that not as much energy would be used on unnecessary lighting.



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