Leaders at Willoughby-Eastlake City School District in Willoughby, Ohio, an eastern suburb of Cleveland, initiated district-wide upgrades that generated impressive results. The district's administrators committed to improving school conditions while nurturing teacher productivity, student achievement and comfort—a pledge that mirrors findings from an ENERGY STAR® report, which indicates that savings delivered by energy-efficient products can help pay for upgrades to help improve the learning environment.
Serving nearly 9,000 students, Willoughby-Eastlake School District administrators faced aging infrastructure, high energy costs and outdated, inefficient lighting on school grounds and in 12 buildings that were constructed from 1921 through 1974.
The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission evaluated the deteriorating facilities and recommended that every building be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $300 million. Opting for a more financially feasible solution, leaders of Willoughby-Eastlake schools worked with Trane, Leff Electric and GE to accomplish its mission of improving the learning and teaching environment throughout the district.
District administrators undertook a high-performance building approach to achieve their goals. Their initial focus was the Kennedy building, which had been vacant for 24 years but was being refurbished. The building now houses students with special needs, early childhood programs, community college programs and career technical programs, including Allied Health, Health Information Management, Licensed Practical Nursing and Medical Assisting programs. In addition, a high school, three middle schools, six elementary schools and a tech center were identified for retrofits.
District leaders implemented a complete renovation of the 75,000-square-foot Kennedy building, now called Kennedy Academy, which provides autism and special-needs services rather than relying on those outside the district. Additionally, considerable renovations on the grounds and in the other 11 buildings included replacement of all fixtures with more energy-efficient lighting, including GE's Ecolux® T8 Lamps, UltraMax® Ballasts and Evolve™ LED Area Lights.
Enhancements also included HVAC improvements, including the installation of new boilers in two buildings and rooftop air conditioning in two facilities, to create an environment that was increasingly conducive to learning.
As lighting and HVAC are the biggest energy users of a typical commercial building, the district now uses integrated controls to maximize energy and operational efficiency. The control system enables users to adjust for comfort and remotely monitor and track energy performance.
Results & Benefits
The new lighting provides the ideal amount of illumination. In addition, the longer lifetimes of the lamps reduce energy costs to taxpayers and maintenance needs, diminishing the need to replace lamps that have burned out.
“Lighting improved so significantly throughout the district that we actually learned that one of our gymnasiums had a pine floor and white walls, both of which previously appeared yellow due to the amber hue that the previous poor lighting shed on everything in that gym,” said Superintendent Steve Thompson. “An environment has been created that is clear, yet warm and inviting.”
Ohio State House Bill 264, implemented to improve the educational environment by using the savings of those funds, enabled Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools to secure low-interest funds for the projects. In this case, the project was funded primarily by the energy savings achieved from the lighting retrofits.
The HVAC and lighting renovation saved the district nearly 4,375,535 kWh, providing nearly $663,000 in energy savings.