NMU Facilities personnel began searching for opportunities to reduce electrical costs in advance of the 30 percent Marquette Board of Light and Power rate hike that went into effect Oct. 1. They obtained more than $15,000 in MBLP energy optimization rebates and will save at least $35,000 in annual costs through recent projects that minimized lighting in the Superior Dome and DeVos Art Museum.
Esko Alasimi said general purpose lighting in the Superior Dome previously consisted of 100,000 watts usage from 100 lamps. NMU electricians installed a supplemental system of 12 new LED fixtures on the catwalk above the field, which brought the total wattage required down to 3,600.
The LED system is activated for public walking, recreation and other general use. There has been no change to the enhanced lighting level required for Wildcat football games.
“It took some logistics to figure out the minimum wattage we could use during non-game periods,” said Alasimi. “From there, it was a matter of installing an affordable alternate system. LED technology is really the driving force and its cost has dropped dramatically.
"At first the new LED lights seemed dim, but the intent was to provide general lighting to a safe level and avoid using the existing system, resulting in a savings of 96,400 watts. The Superior Dome project cost $18,000 and we’ve already recouped that with the rebate and energy savings. By using the main lights less, we also save on maintenance.”
In the DeVos Art Museum, 250 incandescent 75-watt lamps were replaced with 14-watt LED lamps. Alasimi said payback on the $4,200 project will be less than six months with the rebate and annual savings.
“We’ve been converting light fixtures as we can on a piecemeal basis,” Alasimi said. “No one will notice it’s happening, but the university will see a difference on its utility bills. Next, we’d like to start looking at putting LEDs outside. There are almost 600 exterior lamps on campus; each one is 250 to 400 watts. The potential for savings is substantial, but it will be a gradual conversion.”
Alasimi said sustainability awareness is increasing at NMU and he is a member of the campus committee focusing on such issues. He said the rebates from the Superior Dome and DeVos Art Museum projects were deposited in a sustainability account to fund future projects.