Community College of Allegheny County Kicks COVID and Carbon Emissions with New Smart System


By Amanda Waltz


February 24, 2022

Institutions of higher education have had a rough couple of years. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced campuses to adapt to remote learning, all while figuring out how to ensure that students return to a safe learning environment. The Community College of Allegheny County has decided to tackle this problem in a way that also addresses its goals toward being more sustainable.

CCAC, a two-year, community college system in the Pittsburgh region, announced that it would modernize buildings across its four campuses and its West Hills Center, as well as its building automation system, with intelligent lighting technologies. A press release says that the move would create a “healthy, safe and sustainable campus for more than 40,000 faculty and students.”

The plan, which would upgrade CCAC’s lighting and ventilation, among other things, is expected to gather data insights and analytics to “help direct campus cleaning and sanitation efforts for high traffic areas.” It will also help to lower the college’s overall energy costs, as well as its carbon footprint.

Funded by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the improvements would include improved LED lighting control systems, and an Internet of Things platform as part of a “COVID-19 mitigation initiative and infrastructure upgrade” from Enlighted, a provider of workplace intelligence technology.

"Our goal is to reinvent and transform our campus into the most innovative, safe and sustainable campus of the future to create new research and innovation opportunities for our faculty and students," said Carlo Vazquez, vice president and chief facilities officer at CCAC. "We recognized the importance of a strategic partner in supporting our COVID mitigation efforts while meeting ambitious sustainability goals. Enlighted delivers a level of data insights and analytics, as well as platform-agnostic integration, that is unmatched in the industry.”


Enlighted comes courtesy of Building Robotics, Inc, a company of Siemens, a major German corporation specializing in developing automation and tech across a variety of fields. By partnering with Enlighted, CCAC will also be able to take advantage of the Siemens Empower Program, an initiative that supports its partners with “sustainability, STEAM, student success, workforce development, energy efficiency, and community engagement,” according to the company’s website.

Vazquez says that having access to Siemens Empower and workforce development programs was also compelling as the college “sought the ideal partner for this critical initiative."

In addition to CCAC, Siemens has worked to improve learning and working conditions at colleges across the United States through its Smart Campus program, which looks for solutions to improve indoor air quality, sanitation methods, energy efficiency, and more.

The initiative will retrofit more than 1.8 million square feet of CCAC’s indoor spaces with an LED lighting and control system consisting of 17,000 Enlighted IoT sensors across four campuses, one center located across the city, and thirteen buildings. The IoT sensors, positioned in the lighting fixtures, will connect to Enlighted's Data as a Service (DaaS) offering, Space, which is touted in a press release as “providing occupancy and utilization insights to lower energy usage and costs and make strides in furthering CCAC's sustainability initiatives.”

"We are proud to partner with CCAC in shaping a safe, healthy and energy efficient-environment for its students, faculty and the larger Pittsburgh community," said Stefan Schwab, CEO at Enlighted. "By deploying the latest IoT sensors and lighting control technologies, CCAC will succeed in optimizing its energy infrastructure and providing a template for other higher education institutions striving to create energy-efficient, sustainable and smart campuses."


Amanda Waltz is a regular columnist with The Green Voice Weekly Newsletter