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MIT wins praise for 'Green Lights'

The US Environmental Protection Agency has commended MIT for its participation in an energy efficiency program which has reduced electricity use and the air pollution associated with production of that electricity.

In a ceremony on April 12 at MIT, Maria Tickoff, EPA's director of the Green Lights program, commended MIT and 12 other local organizations for completing conversion of at least 10 percent of their total square footage to energy efficient lighting systems. MIT has already finished converting 96 percent of the campus.

"We'll complete conversion of 100 percent of our lighting this summer, after only three years with the program, instead of the expected 90 percent completion in five years," said William Wohlfarth, senior electrical engineer in Physical Plant, who runs MIT's Green Lights program.

"Our staff working on the Green Lights program really has done a phenomenal job-they've completed the project faster than any other large organization in the area, bringing improved lighting and electrical savings to the campus and cleaner air to all in the area," said William R. Dickson, senior vice president.

Through the project, MIT will save about 11 million kwh of electricity per year by installing 225,000 new T-8 lamps, 100,000 new electronic ballasts, more than 3,000 reflectors and approximately 2,500 new lighting fixtures. Other cost savings include increasing the time between changing the lamps because of the longer life of the new lamps, and a reduced number of ballasts and lamp tubes that need to be purchased and/or stocked-saving in volume discounts and storage costs.

Using EPA conversion numbers, Mr. Wohlfarth estimates the following reduction in pollution as a result of MIT's decreased energy needs:

15.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year

130,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide per year

55,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide per year.

In addition, all of the ballasts and lamps that were removed to install the new energy-efficient models will be recycled, extending environmental savings even further.

MIT started the Green Lights program in the summer of 1992 by hiring MIT students to survey the campus' lighting.

"By using students over the summer we gathered the technical information needed and at the same time educated a group of students about energy conservation," Mr. Wohlfarth said.

"Many people think that when something is conserved, something is given up or sacrificed; with Green Lights something is gained. The lighting quality is improved at a lower energy input-that's a win-win situation. We'll enjoy the benefits for quite some time."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 26, 1995.

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