MPHS Entrepreneurship Club tackles energy efficiency with light replacement project at high school |

MPHS Entrepreneurship Club tackles energy efficiency with light replacement project at high school

Project made possible through Grand Foundation grant

Marco Vogelbacher, a junior at Middle Park High, works to install a new LED light in a dimly light hallway Friday afternoon.
Lance Maggart /

Friday was a busy day at Middle Park High School as over a dozen students and multiple staff members pitched in to help replace 200 lights in the building, all part of an energy audit project being undertaken by the school’s Entrepreneurship Club.

Last Friday just over a dozen students from Middle Park High School, with the assistance of several school custodians and other staff members, took part in a day long project to replace 200 fluorescent light bulbs in the school’s hallways with energy efficient Light-emitting Diode, or LED, lights. The Middle Park High School Entrepreneurship Club and Club President and founder Tristan Schwab, a senior at Middle Park High, spearheaded the project.

The idea for the project developed out of the environmental science class Schwab took last semester. At the beginning of the year Schwab and other members of his classed learned bout the divide in energy efficiency between urban and rural areas.

“I noticed that urban cities have done what rural regions have not,” Schwab explained. “They say energy efficiency is improving in urban regions while it is getting worse in rural areas. I was thinking of ways we could make the school more energy efficient.”

Schwab said he initially looked into the idea of constructing and installing solar panels on the roof of Middle Park High School but was dissuaded from the idea after talking to a local contractor that specializes in solar panel installation.

“He said before we install solar panels we have to make the school more energy efficient,” Schwab said. “One of the main ways to do that is to change the light bulbs to LEDs.”

According to Schwab there are 2,237 individual light bulbs used as overhead lighting in the hallways and classrooms of Middle Park High School, all of which were fluorescent prior to Friday. Schwab personally counted each individual bulb during his study hall periods at school, which he said took roughly two full weeks. The fluorescent bulbs at Middle Park High School use 32 watts while the LED bulbs that were just installed use 18 watts.

“If we did the entire school we would save the school about 40 percent on their electric bill,” he said. “To me it seemed like a no brainer.”

The Entrepreneurship Club applied for and received a $2,000 grant from the Grand Foundation that allowed the students to purchase 200 new LED lights to begin the first phase of a multiphase project the Entrepreneurship Club is hoping to tackle that includes the installation of more lights and planting of trees near the baseball field.

On Friday 13 student volunteers spent the day swapping out the old fluorescents for the new LEDs, but it was not an entirely simple task. Not only did the students swap out the bulbs but they also removed the ballasts that the old fluorescents had relied upon.

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