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February 24, 2012

Community

Reducing lighting can save energy, money, support mission

Story & photos by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Organizations at Fort McCoy that would like to help the installation save energy are encouraged to volunteer for a light-bulb-reduction project by contacting the Directorate of Public Works (DPW).
PHOTO: Greg Shattuck checks light levels in building 2171.
Greg Shattuck checks light levels in building 2171.

For the past several months, DPW employees have been serving as guinea pigs to help illustrate that many organizations on post are using too much lighting and can function just as effectively with fewer light bulbs.

Michael J. Kelley, chief of the DPW Energy-Utilities Branch, said a simple way to save energy use and reduce energy outlays is to use fewer light bulbs, such as removing or disconnecting light bulb(s) from a multi-lamp fixture, a procedure known as delamping.

The procedure is being offered on a strictly voluntary basis for all installation organizations connected to the post’s electrical substation.

“In general, office space is over lit, with lighting levels usually exceeding Illuminating Engineers Society of North America guidelines,” Kelley said. “We originally asked the DPW director (Darrell Neitzel) if we could try this with a couple of office spaces. After the initial results, he gave us the OK to try it throughout the building.”

Greg Shattuck, a DPW energy technician, said the program can be an important step in helping the installation meet its energy-reduction goals. Fort McCoy’s goal is to have a 3 percent reduction in yearly energy usage based on fiscal year 2003 totals, and the installation is just meeting those goals, he added.

In the program, Shattuck took light-level or foot-candle readings in each DPW office. Generally, the offices had too much light, he said.

PHOTO: Greg Shattuck (right) checks the lighting in the office space of Kay White. Photo by Rob Schuette
Greg Shattuck (right) checks the lighting in the office space of Kay White.

“I spoke with each of the building occupants, explained what I was doing, and showed them the light-level reading in their areas,” Shattuck said. “I went through the building and disconnected almost 490 bulbs.”

Shattuck said lighting fixtures to be considered for inclusion in the program must have electronic ballasts and be parallel-wired.

These types of fixtures are made to function adequately with less than the maximum number of light bulbs without sacrificing overall lighting coverage, he said.

DPW employees will come to a facility, conduct the light-level tests and disable or disconnect the unneeded light bulbs. Shattuck said this serves two purposes.

First, the light bulbs easily can be reconnected if someone decides the program isn’t working and providing them with enough light. Second, the light bulbs are available to make it easy to replace them when the older ones have reached their life-cycle expectancy.

After two-three months in the new system, Shattuck said no one in DPW has asked to have the additional lighting turned back on.

Lower lighting levels have been known to reduce the number of headaches or other physical maladies individuals might have.

Kay White, a DPW employee who said she was one of the biggest skeptics of the program, said she decided to give it a try because she wanted to help DPW save energy.

“I was concerned with my poor eyesight if I could see as well with the reduced lighting,” White said. “I decided to try it for a couple a days and see if there was a difference.”

After going with less lighting for several months, White said she couldn’t discern any difference.

Neitzel said he approved expanding the program from several offices to the entire building to help DPW gather enough data to prove the project is viable and to show DPW’s leadership in the energy-reduction area.

Shattuck said although 30 foot candles is the recommended lighting level, several DPW offices he inspected had more than three times that much with readings of 100 to 120 foot candles.

For every light bulb removed, Shattuck said it is a cost savings of about $7 a year.

Savings also will include the DPW personnel replacing fewer bulbs as the bulbs reach the end of their life expectancy, he added.

If the measure is incorporated throughout the post, it is estimated it will save thousands of dollars in energy costs, including about $3,800 a year in electrical billing in building 2171, he said.

“The best way to save energy is not to use energy in the first place,” Kelley said. The funding saved will help the Army fulfill its mission requirements in a time of budget constraints.

Any buildings/organizations that would like to volunteer to participate in the program are encouraged to call Wendy Whitney at 608-388-6547 to make an appointment.

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