North Central College expands investment in energy-saving LED lighting

Feb 25, 2015

North Central College has expanded its commitment to sustainability by investing more than $200,000 to replace old fixtures with energy-efficient LED lighting.

The most recent upgrades to lighting in the College’s geothermal-controlled, LEED-certified Residence Hall/Recreation Center and in the Harold and Eva White Activities Center are estimated to save the College an additional $35,000 annually in electricity costs. The projects are supported by a $67,989 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation's Energy Efficiency Lighting Upgrade Program.

The new Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting is equipped with occupancy sensors and dimming features, replacing metal halide, fluorescent and incandescent fixtures—some of which burned continuously. The newest upgrades are estimated to reduce energy consumption by 448,271 kilowatt hours annually.

“These are two more huge energy-saving projects for our campus,” says Brittany Graham, the College’s sustainability coordinator. “The new fixtures not only look great but will save the College money while reducing our carbon footprint. We are continuing to look for more opportunities like these where North Central College can reduce energy consumption.”

With the latest projects, North Central College has invested nearly $250,000 of its endowment to replace old lighting with highly energy-efficient LED technology. Areas where LED lighting already replaced old fixtures include the pool and basketball arena in Merner Field House.

“Over the next five years we will pay back the endowment and from then on the savings will go straight to helping our operating budget,” says North Central College President Dr. Troy D. Hammond.

The College expects the lighting projects will reduce electricity consumption by 647,721 kilowatt hours annually, significant progress toward a goal of reducing campus energy consumption by 1 million total kilowatt hours annually.

The new lighting system in the Res/Rec Center is computer-controlled, and brightness can be adjusted at various times to maximum energy efficiency. Other benefits of the LED lighting will result from reduced heat and elimination of humming noises generated by the previous halogen lighting.

North Central College students in a cost accounting class taught by Gerald Thalmann, associate professor of accounting, gained practical experience from the LED lighting project. Thalmann’s students calculated energy and cost savings of switching to LED lighting and determined the amount of the return on investment for the College, Graham says.

At North Central College, sustainability is the collective effort of students, faculty, staff and visitors working toward the development of a socially just, environmentally responsible and economically functional campus community. Other initiatives that contribute to North Central College's leadership in sustainability include a community garden, numerous recycling programs, tray-less food service that reduces water consumption, food composting, a bicycle-sharing program and more. The College is among schools profiled in “The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges,” acknowledging North Central as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.