April 28, 2006

Grant pays dividends as energy prices rise

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A $250,000 grant from a clean energy group is paying dividends at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The grant, received by the University last fall from Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, helped pay for the retrofitting of 18 campus buildings with more efficient light fixtures. The new fixtures are helping keep utility costs down as energy prices rise.

“We’ve been able to reduce our electrical consumption, which has an effect on our costs,” said Phillip S. Gatton, director of plant and service operations at SIUC. “We’re able to do more maintenance because we’re not spending as much on utilities. It means we’re better able to utilize our state resources.”

The grant paid about one-third of the total cost of the project, which workers completed in October. Officials estimate the new lights, which utilize fluorescent lamps that produce more light with less power, will save the University 540 kilowatts each year. All together, the University replaced 39,800 T-12 lamps with 25,400 T-8 fluorescent lamps.

In the Communications Building, for example, workers replaced 5,600 fixtures with 3,900 new ones, resulting in an estimated $11,000 annual savings in that building alone.

Buildings undergoing the upgrades included Davies Hall, Doyle Hall, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Faner Hall, the library storage building on McLafferty Road, Lindegren Hall, Life Sciences II, Illinois Fisheries and Aquaculture Center, the museum storage building, Northwest Annex A, Parkinson

Laboratory, Pulliam Hall, the Glove Factory, University Press, Wham Education Building, Wheeler Hall, Woody Hall and the Admissions Reception Center at Woody Hall. Most of the work took place at night to minimize inconvenience.

The foundation is a private, charitable organization based in Chicago that has awarded more than $92 million in grants statewide since 2001. Its work focuses on developing renewable energy resources and preserving natural areas and wildlife habitat.

Pursuing alternative funding sources, such as energy efficiency projects, is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.