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      Area school district goes energy efficient

      Businesses, homes, and now schools in the Upper Peninsula are upgrading every day to save money.

      L'Anse Area Schools have taken a huge leap over the last few years in the name of efficiency. They've upgraded everything from simple ceiling lights to their fleet of school buses and everything in between.

      Over the past year, L'Anse has worked with Johnson Controls on a performance contract of $1.34 million. A performance contract means that the savings will be greater than the costs. The school district expects to save $1.59 million in the next 15 years, but reducing expenses was not the only reason for the energy efficiency project.

      "The objectives in entering into the contract were to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce our costs with respect to natural gas and electricity, and also to educate all of us on the efficient use of energy in our schools," said L'Anse Area Schools Superintendant Ray Pasquali.

      The extensive upgrades include new ceiling lights with motion sensors in the entire building. New computers and monitors have greatly improved the library and computer labs, which now includes a boosted wireless network. Newly sealed windows and doors help eliminate heat loss. Many other upgrades can also be seen in the boilers, water heaters, ventilation system and elevators.

      Despite the impressive work done, there were very few complications.

      "I'm very satisfied with the project overall," said John Juntunen, Maintenance Supervisor. "All the subcontractors that JCI brought in were great to work with, they were very professional in their job, and they were worried about the students and the impact they might have on the students as they were working here."

      The school district hopes to lead by example in energy efficiency in hopes of motivating the community to follow.