At a Glance



Project Type

Building Energy Efficiency




Washington, DC


Anna Downs shows The Smithsonian lighting projects that could save more than 1 million kilowatt hours / year, and pay for themselves in 18 months.


Anna Downs spent her EDF Climate Corps fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. The museum hoped she could help them improve energy efficiency with lighting upgrades in 19 museums around the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as well as the National Zoological Park. Together, these facilities host 30 million visitors annually.


Downs looked specifically at the potential for lighting upgrades in the public spaces of Smithsonian museums, in part because a single art museum can turn on more than 10,000 gallery lights every day. Downs found that by investing about $200,000 in carefully selected light-emitting diode (LED) retrofits in several museums, more than $175,000 could be saved each year. These retrofits would pay for themselves in less than 18 months.

Potential Impact

In total, the projects identified by Downs could reduce Smithsonian's energy use by more than one million kilowatt hours annually, saving the institution more than $620,000 over five years.

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