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US (MI): MSU modernizes greenhouse supplemental lighting

Michigan State University (MSU) has teamed with Philips Lighting to update greenhouse supplemental lighting on the university’s East Lansing, Michigan, campus.

High-pressure sodium (HPS) lights have been the horticulture industry standard for decades, but light-emitting diodes, commonly known as LEDs, have spiked in popularity for a variety of reasons. LEDs exhibit greater energy efficiency and last longer than HPS lamps.

In total, 264 Philips LED toplighting modules, with a deep red/white, medium blue spectrum, were installed in 11 greenhouse sections used for horticulture teaching and outreach at MSU. The installation is the result of a partnership between Philips Lighting and several entities at MSU.

Kristin Getter and Roberto Lopez in one of the teaching greenhouses at MSU

Because the supplemental lighting is used heavily — up to 16 hours per day — from October to April each year, the energy savings is significant. Factoring in a decrease from 440 watts with HPS lamps to 200 watts with LEDs, MSU projects an annual energy savings worth more than $15,000.

“Michigan State University is recognized as one of North America’s leading horticulture academic institutions, which is why we’re pleased MSU selected Philips Lighting LEDs to support the transition to LED technology,” said Ron DeKok, Business Development Director Horticulture at Philips Lighting.

Continuing the commitment by Philips Lighting to support horticulture education and research, the LED installation is one of the largest at any university in North America. Members of the Department of Horticulture within CANR — including Roberto Lopez, assistant professor, and Kristin Getter, academic specialist — have sought funding partnerships to revamp all aspects of the teaching greenhouses.

“We’re thankful to Philips, and we appreciate their collaboration in helping us create modern greenhouse teaching and outreach laboratories,” Getter said. “These greenhouses are primarily used for teaching, as well as growing plant material for the on-campus horticultural trial gardens. The Student Horticulture Association also grows plants in these greenhouses to sell in order to fund its activities.”

Several courses utilize the greenhouses as a critical aspect of the hands-on curriculum. The Department of Horticulture currently has 123 students enrolled in the four-year major, 28 students pursuing a horticulture minor and 39 students in the two-year program.

“Michigan ranks third in the country in floriculture production,” Lopez said. “We lead the nation in value of sales for many floriculture crops. The LEDs provide a much-needed update, and alongside other renovations to the greenhouses, we’re giving our students access to facilities and equipment that can prepare them to transition smoothly into their careers.”

Source: Michigan State University (Cameron Rudolph)
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