University of Notre Dame Continues Sustainable Lighting Projects Across Campus

In early 2018, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart received a light fixture makeover.   This two-phase project supports the University’s on-going Energy Conservation Measures program to reduce its environmental impact and increase economic savings. 


The lighting project is brightening in more ways than one.  The change from incandescent light bulbs to more energy-efficient LED lights saves money on energy costs, reduces hazardous waste disposal, and provides richer, higher quality lighting throughout the Basilica. 


Although increasing energy savings and reducing energy consumption is a big consideration behind these types of projects, there are added benefits.  The Basilica, dedicated in November 1849, is 175 feet long, 114 wide, with interior ceilings reaching 60 feet high, making the process of changing the bulbs more difficult than most buildings on campus.  Since LEDs have a much longer lifespan, bulbs typically require replacement just once every 10 years compared to incandescent bulbs, which require replacement one to two times a year, the update in lighting also yielded a significant reduction in labor and maintenance costs. 


The shift resulted in a 151% reduction in kilowatts used (from 37,607 to 8,149) and a 128,894-kilowatt-hour annual reduction in energy consumption, which is equal to planting more than 24 acres of trees per year, or removing over 17 cars from the road each year. 


The Stepan Center also recently received a lighting makeover, replacing the 40 incandescent lights with energy-efficient LEDs.  This update resulted in a 58% reduction in kilowatts used and an annual reduction of 31,800 kilowatt-hours in energy consumption, which is the equivalent of removing four cars from the road per year or planting a little over 6 acres of trees each year.  An additional benefit of this lighting project is that the lights now come on instantaneously, rather than the previous 15-minute delay.


Each project also contributed to a decrease in carbon emissions, reducing the campus carbon footprint by approximately 123.7 tons per year.  Bob Werner, Mechanical Engineer in ND Utilities, says, “We’ve been doing a multitude of campus energy-saving lighting projects since 2008 simply as part of good stewardship.  The benefits were magnified when the University set greenhouse gas emissions goals, to which these projects also contribute significantly. Improved light quality and reduced maintenance have made these improvements very popular with administration, building staff and users alike.”


Notre Dame Utilities is looking for opportunities to conserve energy.  If you have an idea for a lighting project, please submit an AiM work order for consideration.

Originally published by Donnetta McClellan at on August 30, 2018.