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Inside Texas Tech: Tech Holiday Tradition Embracing Green Future

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Texas Tech University
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Texas Tech is adding a little extra green to the usual holiday colors this season, thanks to an update to a beloved campus tradition. 

2014's Carol of Lights was completely powered by LED lights, slashing energy costs by an estimated 80 percent. 

Stephen Howard, Texas Tech's Physical Plant Electrical Shop Foreman, said the revamp to the lights brings one of Tech's oldest traditions into a future that's more environmentally friendly. 

"Even though it’s a very old tradition, it’s something that’s still kind of fresh, it kind of renews itself each year," Howard said. "I think if you were a freshman, coming into the campus for the first time and you saw this, it’s not something you’re going to forget. You’re going to want your family to see, and [it's] something you’re going to want to pass down to your kids. So I think it’s a living tradition."

The conversion to the light-emitting diodes  from the previously used incandescent lights has been a years-long process, Howard said, with conversions to LED beginning in 20 percent sections in 2009. 

Challenges to the update have occurred over the years, including a vandalism incident that left $250 in damages to the lights and a 20-foot strand missing, but the setbacks have actually pushed the conversion process ahead of schedule. Carol of Lights was not due to be 100 percent LED until the 2015 festivities, but thanks to the response to the vandalism, Carol of Lights was fully LED in 2014.

As the man who's in charge of the 21,000-plus lights strung across 18 campus buildings, Howard's nerves before the biggest holiday event in Lubbock were soothed when Carol of Lights 2014 went smoothly and the thousands of now-LED lights lit up the campus. 

"I got confirmation that we are at 100 percent," Howard said. "We had some major vandalism this year, and we lost a bunch of lights. So that’s why I was real hesitant to say we were at 100 percent. But we went back and checked, we had our final check today, and everything is 100 percent LED."

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