Green Fund project cuts costs in ELC

Caroline Fassett, Senior Writer

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New, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights are being installed in the Student Center and corridor of the ELC. The lights are a product of a University Green Fund project spearheaded by Carly Robb ’16 in collaboration with Campus Energy Manager Stephen Durfee.

“Since I was little, my dad has always taught me to turn off the lights once I leave a room. Since then, I have always been hyper aware of the lighting in rooms, as well as the environmental and economic costs of the energy consumption. At Bucknell, walking through the ELC every day, I couldn’t help but notice how brightly lit the corridor and hearth was,” Robb said.

The total cost of the installation, $1,560, is provided by the University Green Fund, which allocates money to sustainability projects, like Robb’s, that offer clear benefits to the campus and guarantee savings that will be reinvested in the fund.

Durfee admitted that there have been times when students interested in making the campus more sustainable have brought proposals to the Bucknell Green Fund committee that are clearly not feasible. He was excited when Robb approached him about wanting to install more LED lighting across campus. In response, he proposed an ideal location for such a project: the ELC Student Center.

“I do a lot of energy auditing around campus. I’m often able to find areas [on campus] needing improvement. One of the toughest parts for students is trying to identify where the best opportunities for conservation are, so oftentimes I’ll spoon-feed them ideas. But [the students] do the legwork,” Durfee said.

The former 65-watt incandescent light bulbs in the ELC Hearth Space are being replaced with 9-watt LED lights. Energy will be saved by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants in addition to reducing the demand for and consumption of fossil fuels, according to Robb. Economically, Robb’s plan states that the lifespan of these lights is much longer and therefore less costly in terms of replacement and maintenance.

“I kept learning about people and businesses who were making changes to better the environment. They inspired me to make a difference. I contacted [Durfee] and we began planning. It took about three weeks to gather the information, calculate the various costs of installation, energy, replacement, gross savings per year, etc.,” Robb said.

For the corridor of the ELC, the project includes rewiring the circuitry in the ceiling by changing the switches to control the lighting vertically rather than horizontally. As a result, the lighting will be more evenly distributed, and, more importantly, dimmer.

“It’s blinding bright in there. It’s ridiculous. As a matter of fact, [Robb] took the light meter we have that measures light levels, and the appropriate level, according to the Illuminating Engineering Society handbook, is anywhere from 50 to 100 footcandles. She found it was [as high as] 330 footcandles,” Durfee said.

Robb’s project has a gross saving of $19,279 across the span of seven years. Additionally, it has an annual energy saving of 42,369 kilowatts, equivalent to the total energy used by nearly three houses in one year, according to Durfee.

“There’s a lot of conservation [in the project] in terms of environmental benefit, the financial benefit. It’s very, very simple, not more complicated; it’s just a more sustainable operation. It’s a no-brainer,” Durfee said.

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