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Energy audit recommends exterior lighting change

To get a glimpse into Wofford’s carbon-neutral, gold-black-and-green future, President Benjamin B. Dunlap has only to look outside his bedroom window.

There, he can see an experimental Light Emitting Diode (LED) outdoor fixture, the first fruits of last fall’s water and energy audit. Commissioned by the late Roger Milliken, the audit was conducted by Jeffrey G. Ross-Bain, PE, LEED AP, BEMP. The letters after the name are important professional credentials associated with the Atlanta firm Ross-Bain Green Building, LLC.

One of the recommendations of the Ross-Bain report calls for Wofford to move as soon as possible to replace its 150 High Intensity Discharge (HID) “acorn” outdoor lamps with the latest LED technology.

As a first step toward that goal, a Wofford team worked with Brent Medearis, an electrical engineer who is the principal in the firm of Carolina Architectural Lighting. The company often works with Hubble Lighting, an international company based in the Upstate that has specialized in electrical lighting fixtures for more than 100 years.

“This new fixture has 60 individually aimed LEDs (72 watts of total consumption),” says Medearis. “The benefit is that each LED can be aimed to provide light exactly where light is needed on the ground. The traditional HID acorn has a single lamp that emits light in all directions, even straight up toward the night sky. To put this in perspective, imagine trying to light a stadium with a single lamp versus hundreds of individually aimed sportslighting fixtures.”

He lists some of the advantages of LED technology:

  • An LED lighting system provides an opportunity to comply with Department of Energy “dark-sky” standards. Students can walk on a safely lighted pathway, but they also can look up and see the stars. That’s an important aesthetic consideration for a “new urban” campus.
  • LED lighting requires significantly less electricity than HID systems, representing another important step on the college’s path toward carbon neutrality.
  • LED technology does not produce excessive glare or deep shadows. Those who walk and patrol the campus no longer will lose night vision if they happen to look straight at one of the fixtures.
  • The light can be directed to go exactly where it is needed. As in the case of the president’s bedroom window, it is possible to sleep in darkness even while the area below is appropriately illuminated.
  • LED arrays have an operational expectancy of 50,000 hours, which means that major maintenance should not be necessary for a decade or more.
  • Disposal of used HID bulbs requires managing significant amounts of environmentally harmful chemicals, which is not the case for LED systems.

“Our Gold, Black and Green team is energized by the recommendations found in the Ross-Bain report, and there are projects that we would like to move forward as quickly as practical,” says Robert Keasler, senior vice president for operations and finance. “Right now, we’re looking for grants, donors and various other funding sources that might take a particular interest in where we are and where we want to go. We would be happy to share detailed information with our alumni and friends.”

For more information, contact Lani J. Foster, director of special projects and financial systems in the Wofford Business Office, fosterij@wofford.edu.

by Doyle Boggs ’70