‘Net Impact’ works to replace light bulbs

Reporter and Reporter

One up-and-coming University student organization is working to cast the University in a new light – one a little bit greener.

The University chapter of Net Impact is replacing light bulbs in offices around the campus as a way to significantly upgrade the efficiency of its energy use.

The larger project, known as Energy Conservation Measures, involves renovating multiple facets of the University’s energy consumption. The first phase of the project was to upgrade the heating, cooling and insulation structure of the many buildings on campus, while the second phase, which began late this past spring, focuses on lighting, said Sustainability Coordinator Nick Hennessy.

“I think it’s important that as an institution we show that we’re supportive of energy alternatives and sustainability,” Hennessy said.

Hennessy said the ECM project promises “significant savings” in the total energy costs at the University, but that it is incomplete. The lighting phase of the project deals mostly with overhead lighting in campus buildings and offices, but does not address the many desk lamps and various other light sources.

Hennessy said he has heard about projects to replace such lighting on other campuses and had been looking for a campus group to copy the effort at the University.

“I wanted to work with a group that was really excited about such a thing,” he said. “Net Impact was a really good fit.”

Gabriel Morgan, a junior international studies and environmental science major, is an active member of Net Impact. He said he became involved with the project when Hennessy told him about several boxes of compact fluorescent bulbs he had as a surplus from a past project working with two Greek organizations on campus. Morgan had wanted to do a project like this and when he learned about the surplus bulbs, he wanted to get Net Impact involved.

“Energy is obviously very important and is going to be very important for the rest of our lives,” he said. “This is just a step … but we’d like to see it turn into something bigger.”

The compact fluorescent bulbs Net Impact is using are about two-thirds less energy, generate 70 percent less heat and last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs, according to the Ohio Department of Development’s website, www.development.ohio.gov.

Hennessy had 96 bulbs left over from the past project that he provided Net Impact, Morgan said. The group made its first 18 swaps last Friday in offices in Hanna, University and Moseley Halls and will continue to incrementally exchange the rest. If the first wave of Net Impact’s effort is successful, Hennessy and the group will work to negotiate different sources for additional bulbs, such as sponsorships and donations, to reduce cost.

The full extent of the savings the project will generate will not be fully realized until it is finished. Morgan said Net Impact is taking pictures with workers in each office to create a photo mosaic of the project. They are also saving all the traded-out incandescent bulbs to create a visual art piece meant to educate others on total savings, which they will calculate upon completion.

“The biggest thing is try to make people more environmentally conscious … each person is a lifetime user of energy,” he said. “They could be a lifetime conservationist.”