May 20, 2022

New Initiative, Partnership Helps Save Energy and Money at Harvard Library

From the Harvard Library:

The massive chandelier that greets visitors to Widener Library is not only impressive to look at; it’s an impressive feat to change the bulbs. Since Widener has switched to LED (light-emitting diode) lights, they haven’t had to in two years. This is just one benefit of a new initiative that is helping the Library to implement greener lighting strategies. With support from the Green Revolving Fund, Harvard Library has partnered with the Office for Sustainability to convert the lighting in Widener and Lamont to super-efficient, mercury-free LED bulbs, reducing energy consumption and curbing maintenance costs.


LEDs are more affordable in a big building such as Widener [Library], but the stacks that house over 3.5 million books provided a unique challenge. There are 7,064 bulbs in the stacks, divided among 4-foot-, 3-foot-, and 2-foot long lighting fixtures. The team tested different types of lamps to ensure they would get comparable color and light quality before selecting the right model, and found that T8 LED lamps consume approximately half of the energy of a standard fluorescent version. “Small changes in electrical consumption become big at the end of the day,” [Andrew] LaPlume, [associate director of FAS Library Facilities], said. The facilities team is calculating that the new lights will save approximately $18,000 per year.


In Lamont and Widener, library hours change approximately nine times per year. Diligent monitoring of schedules allows the team to find solutions that use the least amount of electricity without compromising conditions for the collections. Over the recent holiday break, the facilities team replaced all the lights in public spaces in Lamont. The re-lamping project at Lamont is now 95% completed, and this $15,000 project will result in a savings of $19,000.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.