Lighting Retrofits: Teaming Up for Savings

  August 24, 2011

I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, successful lighting retrofits.

Employees in the physical plant departments of most commercial and institutional facilities work behind the scenes, accomplishing tasks out of sight from building occupants. Such is not the case in many higher education facilities, where maintenance and engineering directors and front-line staff tend to work more closely with occupants. Much of that visibility relates to the fact that students are a driving force behind a growing number of building projects designed to foster sustainability.

John Eaddy, associate director of physical plant with San Diego State University, has witnessed the power of a unified student body focused on green buildings. Students have teamed the university's physical plant staff to conduct research for lighting retrofits, with a goal of reducing the maintenance workload, cutting utility costs, and creating a more environmentally conscious campus.

"Some of what we do is driven by department request, and we'll go in there and make the necessary upgrades and improvements," Eaddy says. "But a lot of it is driven by the student organizations, which gets a lot of traction because (students) are our No. 1 customers."

When tackling lighting retrofits on a large campus, it can be difficult for technicians to get a handle on the magnitude of the project — specifically the number of fixtures. So Eaddy tapped into motivated student organizations to conduct a lighting survey, which is part of a larger energy-conservation initiative on campus that includes HVAC systems.

"The plan (for) that lighting survey is to do an engineering study of the systems to create a larger energy project here at the university," Eaddy says. "We're using (students) for all of the legwork. They have lots of energy. And they're extremely proficient with technology and data collection."


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