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Student-Proposed Lighting Upgrade on UW Campus Cuts Costs, Improves Efficiency

May 19, 2017

A recent lighting switch at the heart of the University of Wyoming campus will help reduce costs and improve energy efficiency, thanks to a student proposal.

UW Operations recently installed energy-saving outdoor lighting on Prexy’s Pasture. The project was based on a student proposal to replace inefficient metal halide lighting with highly efficient LEDs.

Using conservative estimates for reduced energy and maintenance costs, UW Operations predicts that the lighting retrofit should pay back in less than eight years, with additional energy and cost savings continuing into the future.

Tyler Carroll, a senior majoring in geography, and environment and natural resources, developed the proposal for the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources’ (ENR) sustainability minor. As part of the minor, students propose and implement sustainability action projects for campus and the immediate community.

Carroll collaborated with then-undergraduate student Zach Millett, of Simi Valley, Calif., to make the proposal a reality after they met in ENR’s spring 2016 “Campus Sustainability” course.

“I wanted to exemplify a sustainability-based project on campus where it could be seen by all students, staff, faculty and the general public,” says Carroll, of Parker, Colo. “My hope is that by improving the lighting quality and efficiency in the middle of campus, many people may see the value and importance of sustainable projects and replacing all lights with LEDs campuswide.”

Carroll and Millett submitted their lighting upgrade proposal through the competitive UW Conservation and Efficiency Revolving Fund (CERF) process. Since 2014, the UW Campus Sustainability Committee has piloted the CERF, which invites proposals from students, staff and faculty to invest in innovative efficiency pilot projects on campus. The committee selected Carroll and Millett’s proposal based on its cost-effectiveness, visibility to the university community, ability to improve safety on campus and contribution to environmental sustainability.

Now that the Campus Sustainability Committee accepted the students’ proposal and the upgrade is complete, UW Operations has explored expanding the project to both the Wyoming Hall parking area and Washakie Center outdoor lighting. These additional lighting upgrade expansions will have even quicker payback periods than the Prexy’s Pasture component of the project.

“These students designed an extremely well-thought-out and cost-effective project. The lights on Prexy’s are state-of-the-art, energy-efficient LED fixtures, yet stay within the historical guidelines for Prexy’s Pasture as well as the city of Laramie’s ‘dark sky’ ordinance,” says John Davis, executive director of UW Operations. “This project complements the LEDs installed along the sidewalk north of Ivinson and the LEDs we have installed in many of the buildings throughout campus. We hope to be able to implement similar projects to reduce utility costs and improve campus lighting as our budget allows.”

UW Operations has funded recent efficiency projects through its major maintenance account. The CERF, which invests in projects and revolves savings to grow the fund, is currently seeking core funding to invest in major efficiency and conservation efforts and savings. In the meantime, the Campus Sustainability Committee continues to accept proposals that substantially contribute to campus cost savings.

“We want to continue to support smart student ideas, like Tyler and Zach’s, that are forward-thinking about efficiency and conservation,” says Nicole Korfanta, Campus Sustainability Committee co-chair and Ruckelshaus Institute director. “And, we are actively seeking opportunities to reinvigorate and grow the CERF with external funding in order to do that.”

For more information about energy efficiency and campus sustainability, visit

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