New exterior lighting, U Hall improvements usher in new school year

Aug 25, 2014

University hallStudents and faculty returning this fall may notice a new hue coming from the decorative lights around the campus. Starting this summer and continuing through early this semester, the former high-pressure sodium light fixtures are being converted to more cost-efficient and energy-efficient LED lights.

The city owns the fixtures on Greenfield Street, and the university is working with them to switch out those fixtures. Other fixtures are being swapped, starting at the entrance to campus, moving east and then working back toward the center of campus, said Rod Morrison, associate vice president for facilities and engineering.

In all, 169 fixtures have been equipped with the new LED lighting after a testing period this summer. “We wanted a little different quality lighting,” Rod said. “Those who have seen the LED lights really appreciate the difference, and agree they will make a difference on campus at night.”

The new lighting will save the university about 75-80 percent in energy reduction. The LED bulbs, which give off a softer glow, are guaranteed for five years; the long-term impact will generate significant cost savings over the years. Replacement cost will be lower as well, Rod said.

In addition to the new lights, those returning to campus – or visiting for the first time – will be greeted by an improved appearance of the entrances to University Hall.

“Our overall goal is to improve the appearance at that entrance where most visitors – especially prospective students and their parents and guests – are welcomed,” Rod said.

To date, the steps on either side of the porch at the east entrance have been replaced. While the tile on the deck there will remain in place, further plans are in process to enhance the “front door” to the campus.

Soon, the porch will be painted and an original chandelier will be re-hung in the portico. Plans are also being drawn up to replace the existing doors with replicas of the original doors, starting at the east entrance and eventually replacing the other doors as funding permits.

New signage in the transoms at both University Hall and Founders Hall will more clearly distinguish their identities to visitors, Rod said. Other considerations include new banners or flags on the University Hall porch to again highlight the location of and welcome visitors.

One summer project that’s not so visible is replacement of the boilers and air handling equipment in Miller Residence Hall. After losing one boiler last winter, crews determined the equipment was “failing fast,” said Rod. That work was completed earlier in the summer.