Duke student has bright idea to save university as much as $135M over 15 years

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A Duke University student is on track to save the school millions of dollars just by changing light bulbs.

Anuj Thakker (Carleigh Griffeth/CBS North Carolina)

To say 19-year-old Anuj Thakker is bright might be an understatement. As a senior at Raleigh Charter High School he was already thinking about the big picture.

“We wanted to find cost-effective ways to reduce our school’s energy bill,” said Thakker.

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He and some classmates did just that. They changed out the school’s fluorescent light bulbs for more efficient and longer lasting LED tube lights, and he kept that project going when he got to Duke.

“We went to Home Depot and bought some lights and brought them in and installed them, and they worked great,” said Jim Gaston, assistant dean for undergraduate research for Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.

Gaston helped Thakker implement his project in a building on campus.

“Hudson Hall is one of the older buildings on campus. It’s an original engineering building built back in the 1940s, and so it was full of fluorescent lights,” said Gaston.

Newer buildings already have LED lighting. Anuj says replacing all the lights in Hudson Hall could save $450,000 over 15 years. He says if they replaced all fluorescent lights on campus the savings would be incredible.

“On campus, $59 million dollars over the next 15 years, and if we were to include the medical center that figure could go up to as much as $135 million dollars,” explained Thakker.

Hudson Hall and two other buildings are scheduled to be completely outfitted with LED lights by the end of the summer. Thakker hopes to see the rest of campus follow soon.

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