Energy-efficient lighting a bright idea


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Changing all lighting at John F. Kennedy Catholic School will save thousands of dollars and additional savings will be realized because most of the work is being done by staff and volunteers.

Anne Marie Amacher
Scott Sweeney, custodian at John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport, places a cover over a new LED light fixture in the Our Lady of Victory parish hall. The school and attached parish hall are having almost all lights replaced in an effort to save energy and money.

Principal Chad Steimle said when the school undertook a building addition and other projects in 2011, funding wasn’t available to complete lighting and ceiling work. “Funds were just needed elsewhere.”

Subsequent grant applications didn’t result in the school obtaining funds for the project. This year, school secretary Dawn Henning’s husband Matt, who works for an electrical and mechanical company called VanMeter, approached the school about energy rebates available through MidAmerican Energy Co. “We then did a lighting audit with VanMeter. After looking at the numbers, we went ahead with the project,” Steimle said.


Almost every fixture in the building will be touched. About one-third of the lighting project will involve bulb replacements from fluorescent to LED, said JFK custodian Scott Sweeney. “This work even includes the lighting just installed in the 2011 addition. Advances are so much better today … there is even benefit to replacing these bulbs.”

Another one-third of the project involves replacement of ballasts and bulbs and one-third involves installation of new fixtures. In some locations lighting will be added, such as the kitchen.

About 70 percent of the cost of the whole project, including labor, is eligible for rebate through MidAmerican. “When we approved the project, we were looking at a materials estimate of about $47,000, labor estimated at about $14,000, and an annual energy savings of about $4,700.

The rebate was estimated to be about $42,000. Since approval, we’ve made some adjustments to materials and labor. Labor has been the hardest cost to estimate but will also now be considerably less. Our rebate now will be less than $42,000 but so will the entire cost of the project with materials and labor,” Steimle said.

Using staff and volunteers has helped keep labor costs down. Sweeney and coworker Steve Snell have done a large portion of the work, along with the help of 18 volunteers. The custodians and parishioners/volunteers who are certified electricians have made the light and ballast changes, for example.

Rock River will install new fixtures throughout the buildings, including the gymnasium, Steimle said.

“This project has been a great community effort and reaps the benefits of companies and parishioners working together. The community benefits from less energy being used and MidAmerican, in a small way, has its need to consider costly plant additions to generate more power reduced. VanMeter benefits as the sales agent for the materials. Rock River benefits from the contractor work. JFK and Our Lady of Victory (Parish) benefit from the cost savings and students and staff benefit from the better lighting. It’s a win/win for everyone,” Steimle said.
Also, all lighting items and scraps being removed are being recycled, Sweeney said. The old bulbs are boxed and picked up by a company. All the ballasts, metal fixtures and excess wire are recycled as scrap by parishioner Randy Beyhl. “The money he generates he donates back to the parish for the upcoming NCYC trip. Everyone wins.”

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on