Mount St. Joseph University

A Brighter, Greener Future

Academics

By: Megan Simmermeyer

File Under: led conversion, sustainability

Rooted in the idea of serving others, Mount St. Joseph University’s mission emphasizes values, integrity, and social responsibility. As part of that social responsibility, we are meant to care for our neighbor and our home, including our planet. While at the Mount, students receive an education that promotes this good citizenship; one that enables them to become productive citizens willing and able to contribute to the greater good.

But it is not enough to include these noble sentiments in a mission statement—one has to live that mission and lead by example. One of the ways the Mount has actively demonstrated its mission is by being a good steward to the earth. In a time of concerning global warming and climate change issues, the Mount is working toward doing its part in preserving this place we all call home. One such project meant to decrease the University’s environmental impact has been the Mount’s installation of light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, across campus.

Buildings and Grounds Director Mike Dittmer has been a part of the LED conversion project from the start. Not only has converting to LED lighting been a cost effective solution to the Mount’s energy use, but it is positive for the environment. Dittmer says the conversion will have savings in direct energy costs and will, in the long run, save on light replacement costs, as LEDs have a much longer life than other bulbs. In turn, that will be less bulbs thrown into landfills.

The assessment to convert to the University’s lighting to the more earth-friendly LEDs took several weeks. Dittmer says the first step was having an outside company survey the entire campus and develop a fixture count as well as pre/post-wattage calculations. Once the assessment was complete, Dittmer compiled spreadsheets based on the company’s findings to present to University leadership. The long process of assessment, however, was just one step in achieving the Mount’s goal of a more environmentally-conscious campus.

Once the groundwork was laid for the installation of LEDs, Dittmer says it took almost six months to actually install the University’s new lighting, which was performed by another company. During the process, a large portion of the conversion involved complete retrofits due to the LEDs’ inability to fit into old fixture housing. All the old ballasts were removed, and the old tubes were recycled. “It’s approximately 95% complete at this point,” Dittmer says.

Not only are the new LEDs more cost effective, as previously mentioned, but the overall environmental impact is noteworthy, too. With LEDs, almost 3 million pounds of CO2 per year was eliminated, which is equivalent to removing approximately 246 cars from the road. Over 1.6 million kWh, or the energy of 123 residential homes, will also be annually eliminated. Dittmer says the conversion will eliminate mercury as well because the LEDs do not contain the harmful chemical.

Outside environmental issues and cost, Dittmer says the conversion to LED was positive in other areas. “The quality of light and color rendering is improved with LEDs,” he says. “We [also] had some fixtures mounted in very high ceilings that were difficult to access without lifts or scaffolding. The projected 10+ year life of the LEDs is particularly beneficial in those areas.” Dittmer has also received many favorable comments about the increased brightness of the exterior lighting.

The Mount’s conversion to LEDs is just one of the steps the campus has taken toward providing a brighter, greener future. Continue to follow MSJ’s online news feed for more stories about the University’s sustainability initiatives. And to learn more about the Mount’s mission, visit our mission webpage.