Standing in a UC Davis parking garage outfitted with the new lighting system, Kelly Cunningham of the California Lighting Technology Center says point to tiny motion detectors on the lights. When there are no people or cars, she says the system dims the lights to a low level.
CUNNINGHAM: "When occupants are detected or cars or anything else, then it bumps up to a higher level, so you have ample level to park and walk by, but you're saving energy when you're not there. So it goes back to mom with the light switch, if you're not in the room, why is the light on?"
The new system only turns on when it's dark out. That feature, combined with the use of more energy-efficient bulbs, adds up to a reduction of nearly 60 percent in electricity needed to light outdoor areas on campus.
The almost-completed outdoor lighting system costs roughly a million dollars, and is expected to pay for itself in five years.
Statewide lighting accounts for nearly a quarter of our electricity use, so the university hopes its example will encourage others to adopt the new technology.