The La Crescent-Hokah Middle and High school parking lots are drenched in green.

The source of the green — more metaphoric than physical in color — comes from the new light-emitting diode lights recently installed at the high school and district office’s parking lot.

“It lowers the cost and gives off better light,” said Jason Ludwigson, Green Steps Committee member and district technology integrationist.

The city of La Crescent’s Green Steps Committee wants to improve biking trails and the city’s green footprint and it has started to combine those goals with the school’s similar goals — including the LED lighting.

Green Steps formed in November 2015.

Another combined Sreen Steps and school project was the recent planting of a mix of trees around the high school. Last year, the district had to remove 45 ash trees due to emerald ash borer disease.

“It’s been a collaboration with the city and the school working on projects that have stemmed from Green Steps. The city has been working on LED lights but it is facing more challenges because most of the city’s lights are owned by Xcel Energy. The school owns their own lights, so they had more control,” Ludwigson said.

The LED lights were installed in July by La Crescent’s Graf Electric.

“That was our first large LED lighting project in town but we are currently working with the city on other projects,” said Jeff Graf, Graf Electric co-owner.

Although the district received rebates from Xcel, it paid $13,900from the long-term maintenance fund.

“There are two pieces with the upgrade,” Ludwigson said. “The payback period is two years and two months but in the lifetime of the school’s upgrade it will save a little over $55,000.”

The district originally had high-pressure sodium lights in the parking lots. Another upgrade in the project is the lights operations — the district will be able to turn off the lights with a timer. The old light fixtures were on for an average of 12 hours per day, the new lights will be on an average of seven hours a day.

The old light fixtures also had an annual operational cost at $3,800, while the new lights will have an annual cost of $665.

“The new ones are much more efficient,” Ludwigson said. “It’s one way the district is saving money.”

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