UI Facilities Management continues effort for energy-efficient lighting on campus

Over the years, the UI Facilities Management has worked to eliminate fluorescent light fixtures across campus in an effort to be more sustainable.


Grace Colton

Eco friendly lighting fixtures are seen at the University of Iowa’s Main Library on Thursday, December 13, 2018.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

As part of efforts to have a more sustainable campus, the University of Iowa Facilities Management has worked to install high-efficiency LED light fixtures in buildings being constructed, as well as in older facilities.

In the past four years, the light-retrofitting projects by Facilities Management have contributed to 10 million kilowatt hours in savings, said Kathleen Rossmann, the manager of Data Analytics & Commissioning at Facilities Management, in an email to The Daily Iowan. To put those savings into perspective, that would be about the same as removing 1,400 cars from the roads.

The projects allow the UI to receive utility rebates that have generated around $900,000, Rossmann said. The rebates are then used for other lighting projects or energy-conservation measures on campus.

In the last year, Facilities Management has used the rebates for an LED retrofit project in the Macbride Auditorium, Rossmann said. The funds have also been used to support the Facilities Management steam-trap audit.

Grace Colton
Eco friendly lighting fixtures are seen at the University of Iowa’s Main Library on Thursday, December 13, 2018.

In the audit, she said, officials survey the steam distribution and equipment for steam-trap failures and maintenance needs, some of which can contribute to energy inefficiencies.

The utilities group has also done lighting retrofits and upgrades in mechanical spaces, Rossmann said.

“Lighting projects such as these and other energy-reduction measures, including sustainable design and smart buildings, help offset the addition of new buildings and advance the UI’s continual goal of a more sustainable campus,” Rossmann said.

Over the years, the university has gone from fluorescent to LED fixtures through the retrofitting projects, said Marc Brown, a Facilities Management controls engineer. The projects helped reduce energy consumption by 40 percent, he said.

The LED projects Brown has been involved with have a maintenance component, he said. By getting rid of fluorescents, the UI no longer has to worry about recycling them. The LED fixtures are guaranteed for 50,000 hours, allowing maintenance costs to be reduced, he said.

Retrofitting projects are a continuous effort for Facilities Management, Brown said. The department will work to retrofit fixtures until there aren’t any fluorescent fixtures on campus, he said.

RELATED: Catlett Hall achieves gold standard in sustainable building

“It’s just been a constant energy reduction, efficiency in the products and that,” Brown said. “We try to take advantage of that through the university.”

Through a partnership with MidAmerican Energy, the UI receives rebates for retrofitting projects providing better energy efficiency, Brown said.

One of the projects was in the Field House, which required renting lifts to reach the light fixtures because of the ceiling height. The university received a payback for the work from MidAmerican, he said.

“[Brown] faced all the glitches, gremlins, and bugs head-on to help lead the transition into pneumatic to digital controls, incandescent to fluorescent to LED lighting, and occupancy sensors and lighting controls,” said Eric Foresman, a Facilities Management project engineer, in an email to the DI. “Marc and other members of the Facilities Management team have made these major technological advances seamless for the campus, while at the same time saving energy and resources for future generations.”