College Looks at EPA Program

'Green Lights' Would Mandate More Efficient Lights

The University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working to reach an agreement on the implementation of a college-wide energy-conservation program, Director of Facilities Management Thomas E. Vautin said yesterday.

Although the EPA proposed the Green Lights Program to Harvard two years ago, the University did not take part in the program then because of logistical details.

The EPA requires that the Green Lights Program be applied as a university-wide program. According to Vautin, Harvard's decentralized structure made it "awkward to organize a University-wide contract."

Undergraduate Council representative Randall A. Fine '96, who last week met with school and EPA officials, said he is attempting to convince the EPA to relax its policy on full university participation.

"The University agrees with the goals of the program," Fine said. "It's now a matter of getting students involved and gathering more support."


The Green Lights Program, started by the EPA in 1991, encourages voluntary reductions in energy consumption through the widespread use of energy-efficient lighting. Organizationsjoin the program by signing a "memorandum ofunderstanding" with the EPA.

According to the memorandum, Green Lightparticipants agree to survey their facilities and,within five years of signing the memorandum, toupgrade the lighting in 90 percent of their squarefootage.

Thirty-two universities, including BrownUniversity, Columbia University and MIT, alreadyparticipate in the program.

To upgrade lighting facilities, universitiesmust replace current light bulbs and ballasts,which supply power to the bulb, with moreenergy-efficient ones.

The ballasts presently in use are magnetic andgenerate much more heat than the new electronicones. They also burn out much more quickly, saidKurt E. Teichert, environmental coordinator forBrown University.

According to William Wohlfarth, SeniorElectrical Engineer at the MIT Physical Plant andleader of the Green Lights Program at MIT, the newballasts use 50 percent less energy than the oldones while producing the same amount of evenhigher quality light.

"The energy-and money-saving aspect of theprogram is a nice gift," Wohlfarth said. "However,the real plus of the program is the quality of thelight of the new bulbs and ballasts. Colors appearmuch brighter. The improvement is dramatic."

Teichert said that Brown has benefitted fromGreen Light.

"It is a win-win situation," Teichert said."While initial installation costs can be high, theamount invested can be achieved between the energysavings and future labor cost savings in arelatively short pay back period. [Brown's]calculations from a financial standpoint show arate of return of at least 20 percent."

Supporters say the program reduces demand forelectricity, thereby reducing fuel consumptionfrom power plants and cutting down on pollution.

The EPA estimates that every kilowatt-hour ofelectricity saved prevents the emission of 1.5pounds of carbon dioxide, 5.8 grams of sulfurdioxide, and 2.5 grams of nitrogen oxides. Thesethree gases comprise the bulk of air pollution

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