What do headaches, tuition reduction and energy efficiency all have in common?
All of these things are potential products of a new "Spectrally Enhanced Lighting" (SEL) system currently being installed in U-Hall, according to Joe Rasmussen, LMU's Campus Sustainability coordinator.
Classrooms, offices and conference and meeting areas are all being retrofitted with more energy-efficient light fixtures in order to "save energy, save money and reduce LMU's carbon footprint," said Rasmussen.
"We chose U-Hall because it is the largest building on campus and would generate the most cost savings," said Rick Harris, the director of Building Management in Facilities. SEL was also implemented in the building's parking structure in March.
SEL employs a "design method" that uses less wattage, and the light fixtures are engineered to maximize the light they produce, according to Rasmussen. Because of this, the new lights will cut $135,000 off the University's annual electricity bill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 106,000 lbs of carbon dioxide per year, according to Rasmussen.
SEL also improves light quality. According to Rasmussen, the new lamps are "brighter, whiter, provide better color rendering and are more like mid-day daylight." Additionally, the lights are supposed to reduce eyestrain and improve visual acuity.
Community reactions to the lights have been mixed.
"I appreciate the University's commitment to energy efficiency, but at least initially, I'm having difficulty adjusting to the new lights," said English Professor Molly Youngkin. "My eyesight is extremely poor, and even with the correct contact prescription, I have a hard time seeing under the new lights. Even with the old lights, I use alternate lighting in my office, but I can't bring alternate lighting into the classroom."
Rasmussen explained that Facilities Management anticipates the different reactions to the lights. "Changes in lighting take a few weeks to get used to. Most people eventually adjust, but some don't and we have to make accommodations for them. We need to make sure people are comfortable and productive."
"Our Facilities Management team wants the community to know that occupant comfort is as high on our priority list as cost savings and energy savings," he added.
Senior English major Alexander Zielinski did not notice a change in the lights, but expressed some concern over their cost. "It's good that they're putting in more energy efficient lights, but what's to say the technology won't improve by the time the lights start to save the school money?" he said.
There are no immediate plans to retrofit other buildings on campus with SEL, but both the Von Der Ahe Student Center and the William H. Hannon library were outfitted with energy-efficient lights when they were built, said Harris. "We're going to start looking at what's next and see if we have the money for it," he said.