As each freshman class arrives on campus, Duke's Facilities Management Department purchases compact fluorescent light bulbs that Environmental Alliance members give out to students with personal lamps in their dorm rooms for free. It usually takes 900 light bulbs to meet the demand.
While the permanent light fixtures in Duke dorm rooms use energy efficient lightbulbs, many students still use incandescent lightbulbs in their personal lamps. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs generally use a quarter the energy of an equivalent incandescent bulb and last 5 years. If a student only uses their personal lamp 4 hours a day, the savings from the lower electricity use will pay for the bulb in 2 years.
The Lightbulb Exchange was begun during the 2002-2003 academic year by students in Environmental Alliance.