Thursday, February 9, 2012

Light Bulb Fundraising

“When we started FIRST Green initiatives for our robotics teams in 2010, we knew we were onto something: a 21st century fundraising technique that not only helped teams become self-sustaining in the short term; but which also helped them in the long term create a better environment which they will inherit someday,” stated Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST, as he addressed teams about the FIRST Green e-watt saver. It is the newest fundraiser that FIRST has created so that teams can make the necessary funds for each year.

The FIRST Green e-watt saver is different from other light bulbs, making it quite a unique item. The bulbs are made with LEDs, which makes them a great deal more efficient than incandescent or fluorescent lights. They use far less energy than traditional bulbs, which was one of the key reasons FIRST created the bulbs; to be environmentally friendly. The bulbs easily reach this goal, generating 450 lumens from only seven watts of power; 88% less power compared to incandescent bulbs. Furthermore, they last over nine years when used about three hours daily, compared to an incandescent which lasts only three to four months at this rate. Based on 11 cents per KwH, this bulb would also cost only 84 cents per year to power, incandescent bulbs costing seven dollars per year. The bulbs are also entirely eco-friendly due to the fact that they contain no harmful chemicals, unlike their fluorescent counterparts. This leaves no traces of mercury or lead and there is no special disposal required. As added benefits, the bulbs exhibit little temperature fluctuation and are far more durable than conventional bulbs.

After receiving a sponsorship from Google, FIRST was able to manufacture the bulbs through TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System), a leading provider of LED lamps, rather inexpensively. Each bulb costs $20, but 75% of the proceeds will go towards the team’s funds. Similar bulbs sold at appliance stores cost $35 each, far more than the price Cybersonics offers.

Constantly striving to have the most cutting-edge technology, FIRST has released the second generation FIRST Green e-watt saver LED light bulb which will be dimmable to five percent light output, the standard among dimmers. It was designed and tested by the Lighting Science Group in Florida and has also been approved by the FCC. Most bulbs only emit light in one direction, but the second generation bulb will have omni-directional light. Their life span is about 25,000 hours which is equivalent to 22.8 years, far outliving the original bulb. The bulbs cost slightly more to run at $1.02 per year for a 450 lumen bulb, and $1.63 per year for the 800 lumen bulb. The second generation bulb initially is a bit more expensive as well, costing $27 per bulb, however the energy savings adds up over their lengthier lifespan. Similar to the original, these bulbs contain no mercury or lead, and require no special disposal.

“The ability to sell LED bulbs and perform energy audits gives the teams a chance to learn not only about viable ‘green’ technology and energy savings; but also strengthens their sales, marketing and leadership skills for whatever career paths they take,” stated Dean Kamen in regards to the lightbulb fundraising. Cybersonics hopes to gain these things from the fundraiser, as well as vital funding for the team to perform this year. With such goals in mind, the team has been and will continue to sell the FIRST e-watt saver throughout the year.
The FIRST Green E-Watt Saver

Written by Joanna D.
Distributed in the January edition of the Cybersonics Newsletter

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