Summer may be a time of relaxation, but the BC Sustainability Department isn’t taking a break. Just last week, on July 4, a new lighting retrofit kicked off.
These retrofits are going to affect most rooms on campus, as part of a Puget Sound Energy grant totalling about half a million dollars. It is thought to reduce energy consumption from lights by 14 percent.
“The lighting retrofits have been in the process for more than a year now. We are undertaking this project as part of Washington State’s Energy Saving Performance Contracting,” said Deric Gruen, Sustainability Coordinator.
The retrofits themselves will consist of LED technology, motion detectors for lights and high energy fluorescent lights, which are scientifically proven to be much more environmentally friendly. The kickoff for the installation of these lights on the general campus began on Independence Day, but the gym was retrofitted earlier so it could be completed by graduation.
Students will probably not see the retrofitting being done because it will happen mainly after operating hours and on days when there isn’t school so it won’t impact students’ classes, since it is going to transform nearly every room on campus.
This refurbishment happened as a result of petitions and grants by the state. It began in spring of 2011 with an energy audit of BC’s systems. This led to a deeper analysis of BC’s lighting efficiency in the summer of 2011, after seeing room for improvement in the initial audit.
Gruen explained, “Then a proposal was created to replace existing lighting when there was a more efficient system available, as well as other means to improve control of our heating ventilation and air conditioning system and improve the efficiency of our sinks and bathrooms. That proposal came with a guaranteed, enforced by the state, that they would provide energy savings at the amount specified.”
For BC, we were guarantee a 17 percent savings of electricity, a 4 percent saving of thermal gas, and a 19 percent saving of water efficiency.
“All this adds up to about $200,000 a year the college won’t have to pay towards utility expenses and a reduction of 2,300 metric tons of carbon emissions reductions each year,” said Gruen.
This is part of an onslaught of environmental improvement, including water, heating, air conditioning, and ventilation improvements. The college is seeking grants for these as well. A project for solar energy will be matched by the Student Environmental Sustainability Fund (SESF).
The SESF was founded in 2008 as a way to pay for student ideas for sustainability. Students pay a dollar per credit – up to $10 a quarter – to go into this fund. Any student who has an idea about sustainable projects can make a project plan and present it for funding from the SESF.
More information on the lighting retrofits and the SESF is available on the Bellevue College Sustainability Department website.