Investments shine new light on campus

Frank Neufeld // Western News

This year, Western will invest $1.2 million to add, replace and upgrade existing lighting to recognized North American safety standards. Since 2010, the university has spent $4.3 million on lighting alone.

A multi-million-dollar overhaul of Western’s exterior lighting – along roadways and paths, in parking lots and beside buildings – will brighten up and improve safety across the campus, university officials announced today.

This year, Western will invest $1.2 million to add, replace and upgrade existing lighting to recognized North American safety standards. Since 2010, the university has spent $4.3 million on lighting alone.

Thus far, lighting upgrades have been completed to:

  • University Drive and Perth Drive;
  • The Glenmore Drive area, including pathways beside Saugeen-Maitland and Bayfield Hall residences;
  • More lighting on the pathway leading from Medway parking lot;
  • Paths to and around the University Community Centre (UCC), Western Law Building and D.B. Weldon Library; and
  • All roadways, paths and parking lots in Platts Lane Estates and Westminster Hall.

This spring, upgrades are scheduled to be completed to:

  • Lambton Drive to the Talbot College intersection and up the hill to the Biology & Geology Building;
  • Road and pathway in front of Middlesex College; and
  • Lighting in front of University College.

The work so far represents the most significant exterior lighting overhaul the university has seen. But there are additional plans to build on these projects. The university plans to spend another $1.5 million in the next fiscal year to:

  • Complete work along Elgin Road;
  • Upgrade lighting in the Springett, Huron Flats and Medway parking lots;
  • Add and enhance lighting along Kent Drive and walkways behind the Music Building and Talbot College; and
  • Improve lighting around the Thompson Recreation and Western Student Recreation Centre.

Previously, the campus lighting systems did not necessarily follow any particular standard before this comprehensive lighting program began, explained David Ostrom, Western’s electrical infrastructure specialist.

University officials discovered some wiring was beginning to fail, old poles couldn’t be retrofitted with energy-efficient LED lights and entire new areas that didn’t have lighting but required it. Since 2010, “probably thousands of poles have been replaced” and new ones added along roadways and in parking lots, Ostrom said.

“Our goal is to replace all the underground wiring and all the poles and all the luminaires to standards set out by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the Transportation Association of Canada’s Guide for Roadway Lighting,” he said.

The new lighting is more energy-efficient, abundant and designed to meet industry safety standards for different settings. Along pathways, it’s security-level lighting. On sidewalks along roadways, it meets lighting standards recommended for maximum pedestrian safety. At the same time, the lighting is designed to meet dark-sky criteria aimed at illuminating areas beneath it rather than up at the sky.

Pathways, too, are integral to the lighting upgrades as Western continues to “pedestrianize” campus, said Mike McLean, Director (Facilities Planning and Design).

The pathway lighting improvements are key aspects within the Open Space StrategyWestern approved about a year ago. Beyond those items identified, other areas will be improved if identified as priorities in consultation with Campus Police.

“Lighting (improvement) is certainly a priority for the campus as part of a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach,” he added.