Setting Campus Aglow: LED Project Lights Up Williston

Jeff Tannatt was waiting for dusk to fall. Behind the Homestead, a new type of light—an induction florescent, to be specific—was shining across the parking lot. If the light proved bright enough, and Tannatt liked what he saw, then the director of the Physical Plant and his staff planned to install some 66 of the lights across campus.

Earlier this spring, a family at The Williston Northampton School made an anonymous donation of $60,000 to improve lighting across campus and renovate the school’s entrance way.

As a result, some 54 existing campus lights will be retrofitted with LEDs and another 12 around Middle School will be replaced. The gift also covered landscaping at the entrance way, repairs to the brick and stone gate, and the addition of a missing section of ornamental iron fence.

Rachel Goldberg, director of parent relations, said the new Nantucket-style lampposts and LED lights were an environmentally friendly way to “accentuate the beauty of the campus.”

“We’d been wanting to improve lighting on campus,” Goldberg said. “But it really wasn’t going to happen without a gift like that.”

By August, part of that work was already complete. ABE Chimney LLC, a masonry specialist, had cut away and replaced the mortar from the brick entrance pillars. They had also done work to refresh areas where the pillars were crumbling or had been scraped by cars.

Tannatt said he was already looking ahead to the next phase of the lighting project, when his staff would replace the current 175-watt metal halide bulbs with fluorescent ones expected to last five to seven times as long.

“Right now we’re doing bulbs probably every year to year and a half,” he said. “We should be getting five to seven years out of the new ones.”

Tannant said that the new bulbs would have a life span of approximately 50,000 hours, and would use half the electricity of the old ones, providing both consistency and security across campus.

“With the numbers of fixtures on campus, it’s not just like reaching up, it’s a project to get to them,” Tannatt said of the existing bubs. He added that the new ones would save a lot of staff time and would be much more environmentally friendly in terms of energy use.

The lighting just is one of dozens of projects the Physical Plant staff have been working on over the summer, one of their busiest times of year. Tannatt said the staff had also spruced up 16 faculty apartments, and upgraded the furnishings and finishes in the StuBop, thanks to a gift from the 2012 senior parents. They had also added a side porch at 11 Payson, upgraded the hockey rink refrigeration system, and pruned trees damaged by winter storms.

“This summer has been a little different in that we haven’t had a big project, we have 50 little projects,” Tannatt said. “Fortunately, our staff have been here for the most part for quite a few years, so they’re used to this.”

Over the next month, Tannatt said Physical Plant staff planned to install a new phone system, replace carpeting in the Williston Theatre and other buildings, and paint the chapel trim.

Even with all of that work, Tannatt said he expected the lighting project—which would include further landscaping and the installation of a missing section of the front fence—to be nearing completion at the end of September. That is, if the trial bulb behind the Homestead suited the school’s needs.

“So if that works then we’re in good shape,” Tannatt said, adding with a shrug. “If we don’t like the looks of it, then we’ve got to go back and come up with something else.”

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