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Feature Articles

Let There Be Light: The Move to Cleaner Energy
By AJ Keith, Communications intern

According to Sisters of Charity Senior Director of Plant Operations Jim Franz (not shown), Sisters of Charity Maintenance Worker Joe Modifari (above) has taken part in replacing “80 percent” of the Mount St. Joseph campus lightbulbs so far.

Reducing the carbon footprint of any institution as vast as the Motherhouse campus is no small task, but Senior Director of Plant Operations Jim Franz and his staff are willing to accomplish any feat for the sake of the environment. Encouraged by the Sisters of Charity and motivated by their mission, Franz and his staff have engaged in a great undertaking: replacing every light bulb and fixture on the campus of the Motherhouse to LED lights to reduce the amount of energy used.

The project began more than two years ago and they have estimated that they will be replacing around 10,000 light bulbs on campus with their more efficient LED counterparts. Not only are the lights brighter and more efficient regarding the usage of energy, they also reduce the amount of work for the Maintenance Office workers, such as Rick Heis, maintenance director of the Motherhouse. Heis says, “The lights are expected to last about 10 years. We no longer have to check the bulbs every six months.”

Beyond the benefits of the lightened work load, Franz put into perspective the amount of money that is being saved by the use of these LED light bulbs. According to Franz, these new bulbs cost “at least one-third of the electric consumption of the older light bulbs.” Simply put by maintenance worker Joe Modifari, who has been credited with replacing at least 80 percent of the light bulbs in Seton Hall, the Motherhouse and St. Vincent Hall, “It saves money!”

While the project may take up to five more years, there has already been an exponential drop in the energy used. Of the data that the Maintenance Office has compiled, it is estimated that their work up to this point has eliminated the use of at least 254 metric tons of carbon dioxide. To use that amount of carbon dioxide is comparable to an average car driving 622,901 miles or burning 278,056 pounds of coal. In addition, it is the equivalent of carbon sequestered by 6,586 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

Regardless of the lessened cost, the Maintenance Office has attributed their work to a desire to become more environmentally friendly. This was largely inspired by the Sisters of Charity who have acted as messengers for environmental sustainability and care for the Earth. “The Sisters have always been proactive in this issue,” says Franz, “We just want to reflect that through our maintenance staff.”

The Sisters of Charity were responsible for the creation of EarthConnection which is entirely composed of recycled materials and runs on solar energy. The maintenance staff views EarthConnection as a great learning tool and inspiration, and they hope that others will follow the example set by the Sisters of Charity.
Franz also cited the exceptional recycling program that they have on campus, which has a broad scope of materials that can be recycled. These include paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and plastic. Even the old light bulbs that are being replaced still have use as they can be recycled as well. Franz noted that this recycling program would not be possible without the generosity and willingness of the Sisters or the employees to make a move towards a more environmentally friendly facility. These efforts have not gone unnoticed, as the Sisters of Charity were named one of the 13 Laudato Si’ Communities of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, based on the Pope’s encyclical letter regarding the responsibility of humanity in supporting all of God’s creation. Between this thorough recycling program and the move from traditional to LED lighting, the maintenance staff has proven that they and the Sisters of Charity are willing to make strides towards a healthier planet.