The UNC system is relying on LED ceiling lights from Cree to help it reduce its energy consumption by at least $25 million over seven years.
Durham-based Cree is the lighting provider under a guaranteed energy savings performance contract that the UNC system has agreed to with energy services company Johnson Controls.
Johnson Controls will perform an energy audit for an alliance of 13 university campuses and several affiliated institutions to determine what lighting should be replaced to save money. That audit of 27 million square feet of space is expected to be completed in November.
"Once we get an audit in place, we'll know more about what the numbers look like," said Miriam Tripp, special projects officer at UNC General Administration.
Any lights that are installed are expected to pay for themselves through energy savings, Tripp said.
Cree's LED lights cost more up-front but save money long-term through reduced energy consumption and dramatically larger lifespans -- up to 100,000 hours.
"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," Mike Bauer, vice president of lighting sales, said in a statement.
Triangle members of the alliance include N.C. Central University, the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, the UNC Center for Public Television and the N.C. Arboretum. N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill aren't part of the group.