Brower recognized for sustainable lighting efforts in Western Gallery

Paul Brower


Lacking adequate funds to supplement the conversion of the halogen bulbs used for exhibit lighting to LED lamps, gallery preparator Paul Brower took the initiative to personally retrofit each light fixture in the Gallery to enable them to accept the LED lamps at a cost of $2/fixture. He was instrumental in obtaining the research and knowledge necessary to prove that the switch to LED lamps was an economically viable solution, and that the switch would be safe for the artwork on display.


Reducing the electricity consumption in the Western Gallery Exhibit Space was first explored in 2011. Western’s Energy Management team and electrical shop identified the Gallery among areas of campus that could be upgraded for improved systems efficiency, as part of the university’s 10x12 program, ESCO partnership, and on-going utilities conservation efforts. Replacing incandescent halogen lighting with LED lamps was identified as a strategy.

Brower estimated that switching to LED lamps for the gallery exhibition space could reduce electricity consumption, costs, and CO2 emissions by 85-95%.

CFLs Harmful to Artwork

Fluorescent lighting emits rays that are harmful to artwork, especially works on paper. Therefore, conversion to CFL lamps was not a viable solution in the Gallery. LED lamps were not considered until research had proven them safe and effective for use in museum and gallery settings. Research published by the Getty Museum in 2012 concluded in that LED lighting is safe for artwork.

To convert the Gallery, LED fixtures would have to be compatible with the Gallery lighting system. Other factors taken into consideration by Brower included the cost of fixtures and lamps, longevity and replacement frequency, as well as costs, environmental issues, and side effects from manufacturing, shipping, installation, use, replacement, and disposal of the LED lamps and fixtures.

Converting the Western Gallery track lighting system as a whole to a type compatible with existing LED lamps would have cost an estimated $80,000 - far beyond the Gallery budget.

An additional benefit of this project was avoiding the potential discontinuation of the type of halogen lamps use in the track lighting and fixture system originally installed in the Gallery in 1987.


New LED compatible fixtures for the Gallery lighting track were found to cost between $80 and $160 per fixture. Brower's conversion of the existing fixtures to LED lamps at a cost of $2 per adapter has extended the life of the existing system, in addition to reducing the electricity required for operating the Gallery at museum standards for lighting.

Conversion of the Western Gallery lighting was accomplished in several stages. Brower determined that an adaptation of the existing halogen fixtures could be made, to accept the available LED lamps. Paul first adapted fixtures used in the smaller gallery, which has a 10-foot ceiling. After determining that the lighting capabilities were acceptable, Paul retrofitted six of the fixtures used in the large Gallery, which has a 16-foot ceiling, enabling testing of the LED lighting on one short wall.  This was successful, and over the next year Paul retrofitted the remaining fixtures. Though 110 fixtures have been switched to LED lamps, the wider beam spread of the LED lamps has resulted in using fewer fixtures to light each exhibit, reducing the electricity consumption to less than the original estimate.

In Fall 2014, the Gallery opened using 100% LED lighting, with no visible difference in the quality of lighting.

Energy savings

The Western Gallery previously used between 50 and 110 halogen lamps per show, consuming 7,623-10,441 kWh per year, with an average of 9,032 kWh per year. The conversion to LED lamps enabled use of fewer fixtures, because the new lamps have a wider beam spread. Each show now requires between 45 and 100 LED lamps per show.

Since making the switch to LED lighting, the Gallery now uses an average 1,034 kWh of electricity per year, which amounts to $559.81 in annual electricity cost savings.

The Gallery’s efforts to reduce energy has also made a difference in University CO2 emissions. Previous amounts of electricity usage resulted in the carbon equivalent of 19 transit buses, or 79,013 cubic feet per year. Carbon emissions due to Gallery electricity usage now are estimated at the equivalent of 2 transit buses, or 9,053 cubic feet per year. Overall, the Gallery has decreased electricity and CO2 emissions to 89% of pre-2012 levels.

Authored on

May 16, 2018 2:10am