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VIDEO: Courthouse Colors the Seasons (and Saves by the Hour)

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The installation of energy-efficient lights at the Elkhart County Courthouse in downtown Goshen will save money and add an artistic flair to the night sky.

In August of 2012, the county commissioners approved a proposal to change the fixtures around the courthouse to LED lights. Matt Grubb, the Elkhart County director of buildings and grounds, said it took maintenance workers about four weeks to make the switch.

“It was a relatively easy change over, “ Grubb said. “Just a lot of hours.”

With the county looking for ways to reduce spending, Grubb felt that the light change would be an ecologically and economically efficient way to help. The old light fixtures had 1,000 watt mercury lamps, while the new LED lights use less than 300 watts.

The LED lights will not need to be replaced for 20 years, whereas the old fixtures would burn out every two to four years. Grubb estimated that the change was saving the county $900 to $1,800 a month.

Not only is the county going green — the LED lights illuminating the clock tower will turn green as well — it’s going pink and red and white and blue. The light fixtures on the tower have the ability to change colors in keeping with the season and holidays.

“It’s kind of exciting,” Grubb said. “We’ll have different colors for each holiday. Red, white and blue now for the summer.”

County Commissioner Mike Yoder said that it was a fun feature to add to the downtown landscape. “It was an opportunity to do something nice,” he said, “instead of just looking at the bottom line all the time.”

Grubb has already begun to start his next project, which is to change the lights within the courthouse. Grubb said that hopefully when other building owners see how much money and energy can be saved making the switch to LED, they will follow suit.

Grubb added, “The initial cost is somewhat scary, but when you figure out that it’s less than a two- to three-year return on investment, it’s a great alternative.”


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