Students' LED project saves local school money

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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) When students at Dilworth Middle School return to campus next week, they may notice that it looks brighter in the halls and cafeteria. That's because workers spent Wednesday swapping out the fluorescent bulbs for more energy-efficient light-emitting diode lamps, also known as LED lamps.

The idea to replace 435 fluorescent lights came from a group of students at the middle school. It was part of a science class project designed to spark interest in energy conservation. Students from more than 100 schools in the area submitted energy conservation proposals to the Washoe County School District. Only five of those proposals were approved to move forward and become a reality, including the one involving Dilworth. The plan is projected to save the district more than 37,000 kilowatt hours, which translates to an estimated savings of nearly $4,000 this school year.

"The beauty is the energy savings goes into the district and the money we're not paying on utility bills can go back into the classroom and be used in the classroom," said Jason Geddes, sustainability manager for the Washoe County School District.

"And as we know, we're all looking for ways to save money right now and this was certainly a project that paid off for our students," said Laura Petersen, the principal of Dilworth Middle School.

The district wants to make similar changes at more schools so the savings can really add up. But educators say the real bright spot in all of this is how the project is inspiring kids.

"That's one of the great things about this project," said Justin Jones with Envirolution, which helped educate local teachers on how to teach students about energy efficiency.. "The students get to say, 'I am responsible for that. I did that.'"

The LED lights also tend to last longer than the fluorescent lights. According to the Washoe County School District, the old lights would typically have to be fixed every two to three years. The LED lights could last up to ten years.