The historic American Tobacco Historic District in Durham is embracing energy efficiency as part of a collaborative project with Duke Energy and Durham-based Cree, a global leader in energy saving LED lighting technology.

Executives project that the changes will cut energy costs by as much as 18 percent a year. 

The Campus is owned and operated by Capitol Broadcasting, the parent company of WRAL and WRALTechWire.

Just last week, Capitol announced that it was expanding its ownership by acquiring two nearby buildings. Capitol is also in discussions with the City of Durham about building a new hotel.

The energy project announced Tuesday is part of continuing upgrades to the complex, which Capitol acquired and began rennovating a decade ago.

“Innovation has always been in the DNA of American Tobacco Campus,” says Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capitol, in a statement. “As we prepare to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the campus’ re-birth, we’re thrilled to partner with Duke Energy and Cree to set the pace for revitalization projects around the country.”

Capitol has worked with Duke Energy as part of its SmartBuilding Advantage program to find ways to make the campus, which covers 1.2 million square feet, more energy efficient. Building Intelligence Group, an engineering firm, also participated in the project.

The installation includes more than 1,000 interior and exterior CREE LED lighting fixtures. LED lighting is more energy efficient and lasts longer than other conventional forms of lighting.

Other upgrades as cited by Capitol include:

  • Updates to the existing HVAC systems to optimize demand control for campus buildings;
  • chiller system upgrades and control optimization to manage the heating and cooling times for campus buildings;
  • lighting control and demand control upgrades to prevent non-stop energy usage;
  • progress towards ENERGY STAR certification