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Upgraded lights in the spotlight

As afternoon turns to evening earlier each day, thanks to changing seasons and the end of daylight saving time Nov. 6, new LED lights in campus parking lots will help you see more clearly.

Street lights above cars parked in campus parking lot at night “The new lights have a better color quality; they are white instead of yellow, which make people and objects easier to see,” said Holly Thomas, assistant director of energy and utilities with Capital Planning at IUPUI. “We hope the increased visibility makes faculty, staff, students and visitors feel safer when it’s dark.”

Thomas worked with Campus Facility Services, which led the upgraded lighting project. Two of its main goals were to improve safety and sustainability. The positioning of the lights helps conserve energy and cut down on light pollution.

“Almost all our lights point down, which requires less energy,” said Jessica Davis, interim university director of sustainability for Indiana University. “If you’re on a plane and look out the window, all those dots you see over a city, that’s light pollution — wasted energy being shot up into the atmosphere versus being directed where you want it to go.”

The bulbs also save energy by turning off automatically when sensors detect daylight. When the lights go out unexpectedly, they will turn on quicker than before.

“Some of the previous light technology was getting old and could take time to turn back on after an outage,” Thomas said. “The new LED lights are able to restore quickly after a power outage, which contributes to keeping our campus community safe.”

The process from idea to installation took less than a year. Campus stakeholders discussed and approved the project in October 2021. Most new lights were in place by March 2022. Lights in the final two lots were completed over the summer.

“AES, which is responsible for some IUPUI lighting, had most of the fixtures in stock and crews were able to complete the installation within four weeks,” Thomas said. “Supply chain issues are delaying fixtures for months, so we are pleased with the quick conversion.”

The new LED lights are part of Campus Facility Services’ mission to implement sustainable initiatives in each of its major work areas.

“I call those projects a win-win for everybody,” Thomas said. “It’s a win for the students, for the environment and for campus as far as being good stewards of our energy use and resources.”

Tia Broz is a communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.