Issue #14: Efficient Lighting?

Hi Abby!

One thing that I’ve been thinking about recently (especially with the recent change in daylight) is the way we use lighting on campus. Can we adjust the lights across campus to be more efficient? (i.e. do we really need ALL the lights on in Commons or the library or in academic buildings during sunny days?) I can’t wait to hear back, thanks!

-Looking to Limit Lighting

Dear Looking to Limit Lighting,

Thanks for writing! You bring up a really good point, and one that is important to think about. After reading your question, I reached out to John Rasmussen, Bates’ Facility Services Energy Manager, who shared with me a lot of great info about what’s going on in that aspect of Bates sustainability. One thing that came up, which I also mentioned in last week’s article, was the conversion of campus lighting to LED technology. According to John, this is a three phase project, during which the metal halide and high pressure sodium technology lighting will be converted and will ultimately reduce power requirements for lights by 50-60%. Another element of these new technologies is a “sense occupancy” function installed with every fixture, which is similar to the the function installed on various iphones and computers that dims or brightens based on the light conditions where the fixture is installed, as well as turns on or off based on the sensory input. Utilizing the process of “daylight harvesting,” or adjusting lighting based on the amount of sunlight in a space, as well as installing occupancy sensors, which turn the light on or off based on movement, are both exciting and inherently logical ways to save energy. So, to your concern about lighting during sunny days, don’t fret, Bates is on it! John has started making these changes in places that have long hours of operation, giving the example of Carnegie hallways as a first stop. Of course, this is a long process, and with a finite budget, it is slowed even further. Also, even though we’ve done a lot and are continuing to do more, there is always even more that can be done. Students making little behavioral changes, like turning off lights or utilizing “task lighting” (concentrating the light you are using to the task at hand), can also have an impact on using lighting efficiently on campus. All in all, we can all be held accountable in different ways when it comes to being efficient with lighting, energy usage in general, and of course the larger sustainability initiative. As always, thanks for writing!

-Sustainable Abigail