Lighting the Way
The pole lights lining the sidewalk near the Charline McCombs apartments look like any other lights on campus, but they’re not. The lights have been retrofitted to use LED light fixtures − a switch that is saving the university 80 percent on its electricity costs for these lights.
Nathan Shaw-Meadow, a 2010 Southwestern graduate, played a key role in the demonstration project.
As a sophomore at Southwestern, Shaw-Meadow became involved with Southwestern’s environmental advocacy group, SEAK. “It was through SEAK that I really became interested in investigating ways to lower our carbon footprint on the world,” Shaw-Meadow said.
Among the projects Shaw-Meadow got involved with at Southwestern was a project to retrofit the lights in Heather Hall with LED lighting. This project piqued his interest in entering the “green collar” industry.
After he graduated, Shaw-Meadow applied for a job with the Georgetown-based company that made the LED lights that were put in Heather Hall. The company, called Ringdale, is an international manufacturer of the ActiveLED product line with headquarters in Georgetown and the United Kingdom, and global partners in South America, Japan and Singapore. Shaw-Meadow has been with Ringdale for the past year and a half.
Shaw-Meadow worked with Georgetown Utility Systems to write a grant that helped fund the retrofitting of 19 pole lights at Southwestern, 20 roadway lights along Sun City Boulevard, and 33 parking lot lights in Sun City. Eight of the roadway lights along Sun City Boulevard are configured with on-site solar generation, which means they no longer require electricity. The money used to fund the project came from the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy-Efficient Developments (DEED) Project.
The grant money also funded equipment that could monitor how much electricity the retrofitted lights were using. Shaw-Meadow said the demonstration project found an average savings of 80 percent over a 30-day metered period.
Bob Mathis, associate vice president for facilities and campus services, said the project provided a good opportunity to test LED lighting on campus and see how effective it would be. Mathis said he would like to eventually retrofit all the pole lights on campus with LED lights and is getting estimates on what that would cost.
“The question is whether we can justify the cost of replacing the other lights without a grant,” Mathis said.
Shaw-Meadow said the LED fixtures have a significantly longer lifetime than conventional lighting technology, which adds to the cost savings of the project. And since LED lights don’t have to be changed as often, that will save staff time.
Shaw-Meadow said he plans to stay in the green collar industry working with new energy-efficient technologies. “Applying my experience at Southwestern in the professional environment has worked pretty well,” he said.
− Isaac Bernal