Lake County Schools energy project nears completion

Lindsey Bell

ENERGY PROJECT—Margaret Newton Elementary School receives windows in one of the final stages of a nearly two-year long energy saving project for Lake County Schools. Submitted photo.

After nearly two years of hard work, Lake County Schools are seeing the light at the end of a project’s tunnel, according to Sherry Darnell, district superintendent.

“We’ve had a tremendous energy project going on,” Darnell said.

With the help of Johnson Controls and the Energy Efficient State Initiative, schools throughout the county have received new LED lights, windows, and bathroom fixtures to save on energy and water bills. Lake County High School has even received a new air conditioning unit for the gym, which will be a delight to graduates and guests alike at the school’s May 17 commencement ceremony. According to Darnell, this is the first time the gym has been air conditioned since it was built in 1963.

“That was really the crown jewel on the project,” she said.

The incredible project is being paid for by the overwhelming savings schools get through reduced energy and water bills. However, if Lake County Schools do not save enough from future bills as a result of the project, Johnson Controls will take care of the remainder of the cost.

LED lights, which research shows are better for students’ eyes, have completely replaced fluorescent lights at each school in the county. The lights in the high school gym are completely motion activated, which will result in additional savings for the school district.

District staff members started research on the project two years ago, with the Energy Efficient State Initiative assisting with paperwork. Johnson Controls began work on the project approximately a year ago, with workers coming in over night to avoid disturbing students.

“The project has taken a lot of time, but the payout has been phenomenal,” Darnell said. “This project is so important because our schools are the hub of our community.”

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