Green Gown Awards 2015 Research and Development - University of Cambridge - Highly Commended

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LEDing the way to greener plant growth

Since 2012, the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge has been developing LED lighting capable of growing a wide range of plants under controlled conditions for research and teaching.

The energy saving benefit of LEDs is well known, but delivering the best wavelength spectrum at controllable intensities with even coverage has proved to be a challenge for departmental staff and industry partners.

Following extensive trials with a variety of lighting array types, plant species and metrics, refit of plant growth chambers and algal incubator shakers has begun. The LED arrays are easier to calibrate and lighting power load has been reduced by over 60%. Sizeable further savings are also being made from a reduction in chilling demand, as the new lights produce less waste heat.

Trials and refits continue and once complete, annual department emissions will be 400 tonnes CO2e less.

Top 3 learnings

1 Engage with as many stakeholders as possible early on and continue to involve them throughout the process

2 Strong relationships with suppliers, partners and funders (both internal and external) are vital for maintaining momentum

3 Flexibility is important, but don’t lose sight of the overall aims.

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