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Project to replace lights nears end

By Michael Schlamp

In cooperation with the Massachusetts Public Utility Commission's plea for energy conservation, MIT's Physical Plant has nearly finished installing hundreds of fluorescent lights in buildings around campus, according to George H. Kilmarx, MIT's engineering projects manager.

The Cambridge Electric Light Company, which supplies the Institute with its electricity, agreed to award MIT a $4.3 million rebate as part of a five-year electricity conservation program,

which began in August 1988. The total cost to MIT for the program will be approximately $5.25 million, but this is easily offset by the rebate and the anticipated yearly electricity savings of $1.25 million, Kilmarx said.

So far, the main thrust of the five-year program has been the replacement of incandescent lights, operating at 100 watts and lasting about 1000 hours, with fluorescent lights, which operate at 15 watts and last up to 10 times longer. According to Kilmarx, the fluorescent lights supply the 50 foot-candles of illumination that MIT requires, and in several instances provide greater illumination to suit specific needs.

In addition to changing the bulb type, the Physical Plant has also reduced the number of lights, installed electronic ballasts, and attached reflectors and mirrors to improve illumination and conserve electricity. While most buildings on campus have undergone some improvement, the bulk of the renovation has occurred off the main campus, where more sophisticated electrical systems allow for greater savings, Kilmarx said.

"Although most of the first year of the program has focused on conservation through lighting changes, there are many other areas in which to conserve electricity, and new projects will be implemented as the program continues," Kilmarx said.

Support from the community has so far been excellent, Kilmarx said. "We're looking forward to improving the efficiency of the Institute in the future," he added.