Great Court lights up thanks to LED upgrades

26 November 2020

Purple, green, pink, yellow, red and more! A rainbow of colour is now available to light up the Great Court’s historic cloisters, thanks to upgrades completed by the UQ Sustainability and Infrastructure teams this month using the latest LED technology.

The project is part of a much larger lighting retrofit program that has been taking place across the University since 2011. Around 58,000 lights have been replaced, saving approximately 7 million kilowatt-hours of energy.

That’s equivalent to the total energy consumed by about 1,145 Australian households in a whole year1.

“The retrofit program is an initiative from the UQ Sustainability team,” says Dr Carlos Fujita-Dimas, project officer in energy management.

“We look for both energy and cost efficiencies as part of our commitment to deliver long-term, sustainable change in energy consumption at the University.”

The cloisters were particularly interesting to work on, Carlos explains, because the team also needed to protect the heritage value of the buildings.

“This meant we had to develop custom LED lamps instead of using an off-the-shelf product,” he says.

“This, in itself, was challenging, as the LED lights needed to be installed within the limited space available at the base of the existing spherical fittings, while at the same time delivering enough light to meet Australian standards.”

It took around three years to refine the technology, and the new lamps are now able to be controlled wirelessly, remotely and individually. Previously, it was only possible to operate all the lights onsite and simultaneously around the Great Court.

Another project achievement was to introduce the ability to use multiple colours in the cloisters, creating the atmospheric glow you see in these photos.

UQ staff help grow the lighting program

During the last three years, the lighting retrofit program has accelerated quite rapidly. The chart below shows fittings completed since 2011.

Lighting retrofit upgrades 2011-2019

Carlos says while most of the refit projects are initiated by the Sustainability team, many are also brought to the team’s attention by staff from around the University.

“A lot of UQ staff are very eco-conscious and environmentally friendly,” he says.

“We’ve had many instances where people come to us and say ‘our fittings seem to be quite old; can we replace them?’.”

When that happens, the Sustainability team comes and does an assessment of the building to determine if it meets the program criteria for both energy and financial savings.

“We’ve also completed many upgrades in partnership with other teams, which has also helped the program to gain momentum.

“The cloister retrofit is an example of this, as the Sustainability and Infrastructure teams combined resources, knowledge and experience to deliver the project successfully,” Carlos says.

Several new office and teaching spaces, alongside outdoor fittings such as the Great Court, have been completed across both St Lucia and Gatton campuses this year. And as LED technology continues to improve and become ever more affordable, the program is set to deliver further energy savings in 2021.



1 Calculated using consumption figures from the Australian Energy Update 2020, published by the Dep of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (Australian Government), Sept 2020