Groups Survey Poorly Lit Areas on Campus

In an effort to reduce crime and sexual assault while also cutting power consumption at night at UCSD, several student and faculty groups are currently working to improve lighting on campus and are conducting annual walks around campus to find poorly lit spots. This goal is expected to be completed by the end of 2017. 

On Jan. 8, representatives from Campus Crime Prevention, the Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention Resource Center, Housing Dining and Hospitality and Transportation Services, among others, attended the latest in a series of evening walks to find areas on campus that are most in need of additional lighting.

They had met three times before to audit graduate housing, undergraduate housing areas and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Nancy Wahlig, director of SARC, helped organize the walks and explained that the lighting audit had been held annually for the past 20 years. It gradually expanded over time to include more cross-departmental cooperation and student input.

Some of the noted areas of concern on the audit and night walk last Thursday were in Earl Warren College Mall, the Geisel snake path, the bike racks in the School of Medicine and around the Rady School of Management. Although parts of these areas are lit, the current sodium lights do not provide adequate illumination. Their yellow color and low luminosity create dark shadows off the path and make it hard to distinguish colored features. The groups also noted areas where lights were burned out or blocked by foliage.

Warren College senior Shayla Wilson expressed her safety concerns about parts of campus and explained that women would feel safer if the campus provided better lighting.

“In Warren, a lot of the lights are out, and there’s a lot of overgrowth on the path,” Wilson told the UCSD Guardian. “I can’t see who could potentially be in my surroundings. I could say the same thing about when I bike through the medical school or when I park out toward the [Torrey Pines] Gliderport.”

UCSD Assistant Energy Manager Anna Levitt explained that in addition to violence prevention, the university will be reducing its energy costs by $45,000 per year. The university plans to accomplish this by replacing the yellow sodium streetlights around campus with LED lights, which will require maintenance every 12 years instead of every three.

“We’re in the process of transitioning to the most efficient lights possible,” Levitt told the Guardian. “LED’s are probably 30 percent more efficient than the low-pressure sodium lights and last at least three times longer. From a sustainability and maintenance cost perspective, that’s great, since Facilities Management is constantly replacing the orange lights.”

The cost associated with replacing old lamp poles and installing new ones will be $650,000. However, UCSD will be eligible for a $120,000 reimbursement from San Diego Gas and Electric as an incentive to cut emissions. The project is projected to pay for itself in 10 years. Similar work has been done in the past, and light retrofits in 2011 and 2012 saved the university $210,000 and $90,000 per year, respectively. Their efficiency will also contribute to UCSD’s goal of reducing its net carbon footprint to zero by 2025.