Southwestern University


In January 2010, Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, took a bold step towards environmental responsibility by purchasing 100% of its energy from renewable sources. Keeping true to Southwestern's commitment to environmental stewardship, John Ore, Professor of Technical Theater, set his sights on retrofitting a theatrical rehearsal space that would achieve a net-zero energy footprint. His goal was to offset all energy use in the space with renewable sources of energy, while transforming the rehearsal hall into a multi-purpose interactive classroom. Students would be able to intuitively grasp concepts of electrical energy consumption as they rehearsed theatrical productions. The challenge was to find the most energy-efficient lighting technology to reduce the theater's electrical load, thus reducing the cost of the proposed renewable offsets.


Early on, Ore settled on implementing LED technology to replace the lighting fixtures in the theater. He understood that LED was the most efficient form of lighting technology, and by replacing the existing fixtures with LED luminaires he could significantly reduce the HVAC load of the theater. Ore and his team of students, staff, and faculty ventured over to the Georgetown headquarters of Ringdale, Inc. to inspect the ActiveLED Lighting product line. After touring Ringdale's 100% LED lighted facility just up the road from Southwestern, Ore and his group settled on ten 14-watt recessed can lights to replace the house lighting for the space. The lights are all digitally managed allowing for 100% dimming capabilities, further reducing the theater's energy consumption. Ringdale's "smart electronics" and optimal thermal dissipation technology made the ActiveLED fixtures a perfect match for the net-zero application.


Replacing the conventional house lights with Ringdale's ActiveLED technology was one of the first steps towards achieving John's vision of a multi-purpose interactive classroom with a net-zero carbon footprint. "The Ringdale fixtures were a great way to kick start the project, and get us moving in the direction of a net-zero solution" said Ore. He and the LED lighting group at Southwestern are continuing to pursue funding to complete their project. The next step will be to replace the theatrical lighting with ActiveLED fixtures, and eventually install solar panels for the roof of the theater to offset its energy usage.