Student committee asks UI to use energy-efficient bulbs

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By Michael Logli

After turning on a lamp in Grainger Engineering Library, Bryan Thompson, senior in LAS, got an idea.

Thompson, a member of the Illinois Student Senate’s Committee on Student Life, noticed that the lamp was using an incandescent bulb and sent an e-mail asking the Grainger staff to replace its inefficient incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent and light-emitting diode lights.

“It’s so simple to do,” he said. “It makes sense.”

Thompson then worked with student senators to write a resolution asking the University to replace old incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones beginning Jan. 1, 2008. The resolution passed unanimously at the Oct. 24 meeting.

Thompson said these new light bulbs would save the University money in the long run. While the up-front cost of a fluorescent bulb is slightly higher than an incandescent, each fluorescent bulb will save the University $16 each year. LED lights are even more efficient and powerful, but they do not fit in every outlet and cost $25 per bulb, Thompson said.

Fluorescent bulbs also last longer. Compared to the incandescent light, which normally lasts for 1,000 to 2,000 hours, the average fluorescent bulb lasts for 10,000 hours and an LED light lasts for 50,000.

Fluorescent bulbs do, however, contain a small amount of mercury. Nevertheless, Thompson said that they can be thrown away normally if broken.

Katie Dunne, vice president internal of the senate and junior in LAS, has been working with Thompson to get University support. The resolution will go to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano and the Campus Lighting Committee after more research is done.

The plan is to use money from the newly created sustainability fee, Dunne said.

Students voted to implement this $5 fee to finance sustainable campus development and campus involvement in environmental issues.

Romano said the idea corresponds with the University’s goal of becoming more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. University Provost Linda Katehi has been working on an environmental policy for the University as well, she said.

In order to use money from the sustainability fee to fund the new light bulbs, the resolution request would have to be submitted to the student-run committee that decides how to use the sustainability fee.

Romano said she feels the idea is very feasible.

“The University has been working hard to create an environmental policy on campus,” Romano said. “I think it’s a good idea.”