By Ed Huddleston
Director of Physical Plant, Idyllwild Arts Academy

Idyllwild Arts Academy (IAA) has substantial outside lighting requirements for visibility and safety. Students, faculty and visitors are often out in darker hours, going to and from dorms and the dining hall, the library and various art studios, or attending on-campus performances and recitals.

To assure these needs, IAA has an annual utility bill totaling more than a half million dollars. Consequently, the school has a strong incentive to undertake a sustainability program. So, outside lighting is one of many areas we have been looking at. Plus, many of us have outside lighting needs at home.

The campus has both path lighting and “barn” (attached to buildings) lighting. In both cases, past fixtures were specified to be high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, which are both expensive and use considerable power. Recently, we began retrofitting path lighting between dorms. The HPS fixtures cost $350 to install; HPS bulbs are $29 each, and need 70 watts of power.

By contrast, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL’s) cost $9 each and use 19 watts of power. So, both the bulb cost and the power cost are two-thirds lower with CFL’s. The predicted longevity of both types of bulbs is the same.

Since safety is paramount, we conducted a practical lighting test as well. I had my maintenance crew replace bulbs on one side of a path, without telling me which side had been replaced. When I went out to view the results, I could not tell which side was HPS and which side was CFL. So now, paths remain safe and contribute to our sustainability program as well.

Barn lighting is also more cost-effective with CFL’s. An HPS fixture is $150 and a bulb $35, while a CFL fixture is $105 and bulbs $25 each. An HPS bulb is projected to last longer, but even with two CFL bulbs the total HPS cost is $185 and the total CFL cost $155. The power costs are more than two-thirds lower with CFL’s — they use 42 watts of power while the HPS bulbs use 150 watts.

Outdoor lighting is only one practical area where IAA is looking at sustainability improvements which also save money. We have started a five-year Water Conservation by installing low-flow shower heads and air-assisted toilets in dorms and other buildings, we have already met the first-year reduction goal of two percent less water use,

IAA also had an electrical energy audit completed for classrooms. Southern California Edison paid for the audit and will provide fluorescent lights and motion sensors for those classrooms. A weatherization audit, focusing on insulation, is also in the works, as well as the purchase of infrared equipment so that maintenance staff can spot energy leaks in our many older buildings.

The school has applied for foundation funds for other sustainability projects, such as programmable thermostats to lower temperatures when classroom buildings and art studios are not in use, and a water filtration system for the dining hall which will lower water usage as well as purify the water. As part of that project, water bottle refill stations will be added to the dining hall so that students can use school-issued canteens and cut down on plastic water container use.

There are lots of practical and cost-efficient sustainability measures which we are pursuing at school, and that you can use at your home or business as well.