A bright future for Concordia

Concordia student proposes LED light project to university

Concordia University’s Next-Generation Learning Project is well underway within its first year, and has already reached half of the $250 million it set out to raise. The project includes nine strategic directions, one being to better the environment and make changes to the school accordingly.

Simon-Benoît Bretchko, a psychology student with a minor in marketing, introduced Concordia to a new sustainable LED light with the help of local engineer Martin Roy and a group of Concordia students. The light is made by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEDD), of which Bretchko is vice-president.

LEDD’s lights do not have a ballast, which is an electrical component that limits the electrical current. “Our lights function as efficiently without a ballast,” said Bretchko. Although traditional fluorescent lights use a ballast, he added that not using one reduces the cost of production without affecting the level of brightness.

Bretchko’s product is estimated to save Concordia $11 million in electricity, which will advance the school’s goal of becoming Canada’s most efficient university. As a Concordia student himself, Bretchko proposed the idea to improve students’ study habits at the Vanier Library, where he spends a lot of time.

Last November, Concordia installed 20 W LED T8 fluorescent retrofit bulbs from LEDD in the Hall building’s fourth floor staircase. These lights have comparable lighting and colour to existing fluorescent lights on the lower floors.

“To date, these lights have performed flawlessly and are helping to reduce our energy consumption,” said Daniel Gauthier, one of the school’s engineers.

According to Bretchko, light and power consumption would be reduced by 55 per cent. “If [the university] changes from the fluorescent lights to LEDD lights in all of their buildings, the cost will be returned in an estimated 2.1 years, which is where the $11 million comes from.”

Bretchko is also pushing for student involvement. He said LEDD would create internship positions for students, if his project is approved. According to Bretchko, students would help with the maintenance of the lights. If a light burns out or needs replacing, a student will be trained to repair it, to avoid the cost of a handyman and to increase efficiency.

“My role is to find new clients and small enterprises to present our lights,” said Sofiane Maret, an intern at LEDD.“I chose this because there is opportunity for work after and the company is doing something for the environment.”

In recent years, Bretchko has hired four Concordia students as interns, and plans to continue  involving them, as well as international students.

Photos by Simon-Benoît Bretchko and Elizabeth Spinozzi.


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