Mines 'M' goes green for 100th anniversary

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Mines 'M' goes green for 100th anniversary

GOLDEN, Colo., April 8, 2008 – The large white “M” that sits above the Colorado School of Mines campus on Mt. Zion is turning 100 this year – and to commemorate the event, the famous landmark is going “green.”

Members of Mines’ chapter of Blue Key International Honor Society, a national leadership and service group that maintains the “M,” plan to swap out the monument’s 1,653 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The initial LED bulb upgrade will cost more than $30,000 – but the energy and dollar savings after the fact will be substantial. Not to mention the increased flash factor – LEDs will make the “M” more visible to those outside Golden and special mosaic bulbs will allow Blue Key to achieve some spectacular effects.

According to Steven Meyerhoff, Mines Blue Key member and assistant “M” chair, the average 12-hour burn time of the monument's 11-watt bulbs uses about 73 kilowatt-hours per night – with LEDs, the nightly usage will drop to about 11 kilowatt-hours. Currently, it costs around $2,100 to light the “M” for one year. With the LED conversion, the cost will drop to about $310.

Blue Key is in the process of securing the funds for the greening of the “M.” It turns 100 May 18.

Some “M” history:
  • The “M” was constructed in 1908 when 250 Mines students and 20 faculty members loaded a supply train of burros and packed their way up Mt. Zion.
  • In 1931, Blue Key members borrowed a tractor, generator, poles, wire and bulbs to light the “M” for homecoming. The first lighting of the “M” was such a huge hit, students and civic committees raised money to light it permanently in 1932.
  • In 1948, the lighting became fully automatic. Forty-one years later in 1989, the lighting system was modernized including wiring and conduit upgrades. The original light sockets were replaced with multi-bulb weatherproof fixtures.
  • Lighting was computerized in 2003 with a wireless antenna system developed by a Mines Senior Design team.
  • Each fall, incoming freshmen carry a 10-pound rock from campus to the “M” and coat the symbol with fresh whitewash. Graduating seniors are invited to return to the “M” and retrieve their rocks.

For more information on Blue Key and the history of the “M,” see http://inside.mines.edu/BLU-Mblem.

Founded in 1874, Colorado School of Mines was established to serve the needs of the local mining industry. Today, the School has an international reputation for excellence in both engineering education and the applied sciences with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth's resources. For more information about Colorado School of Mines, visit www.mines.edu.


Karen Gilbert, Public Relations Specialist
303-273-3541 / Karen.Gilbert@is.mines.edu

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