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K-12 School District Funds Athletics with Energy Efficiency... And You Can Too

School gymMore school districts than ever are looking for ways to add value to their communities and, increasingly, we find that state-of-the-art athletic facilities fit the bill. Athletic facilities play an important role in school districts – students love athletics and sports often serve as a rallying point for communities. Athletic facilities are highly visible representations of the school district and the public at large.

We’ve been told by a client executive that these facilities “are the lens through which the community gauges the district’s leadership.”

But many of our K-12 clients ask us: “How can we fund athletic improvements when so many priorities compete for capital dollars?” Charter Oak Unified School District in Covina, California, found the answer when it partnered with us on an innovative solution.

For Charter Oak, football is a big deal. A really big deal. But the school’s outdated stadium lighting poorly lit the field and didn’t reflect the community’s sporting spirit. Schneider Electric worked with Charter Oak to leverage California’s Prop. 39 and acquired $1.2 million in funding for LED upgrades, including the football stadium. The much-needed project updated 10 buildings across the campus including multi-purpose rooms, parking lots and exterior buildings to state-of-the-art LED lighting.

But the real win was for the football stadium, which was upgraded to ultramodern Musco LED lighting. With its pinpoint accuracy, this pro-quality upgrade transformed the field from shadows and dinginess to brilliance and clarity.

Taken together, the new LEDs use 30 percent less energy, and last 20-plus years. Thanks to Prop. 39 funding, the $1.39 million project cost the school under $200,000. What’s more, the lights will save more than $50,000 annually. That’s an exciting win for the school and community.

Fund a wide-variety of athletic upgrades

Here are three key strategies we have found that help modernize athletic environments:

  1. Ensure best-in-class pools. Pool areas are constantly exposed to harsh chemicals and water, which means they often deteriorate faster than other facilities. Advanced technologies help keep natatoriums more comfortable through improved HVAC and other systems that maintain water temperature. Along with extending the life of natatoriums, these cutting-edge solutions reduce energy costs and improve the overall experience.
  2. Create top-notch gyms. Gymnasiums were often constructed without proper air circulation systems. For buildings with vast spaces and a lot of sweat, that’s not a good game plan. At the same time, many gyms are outfitted with outdated lighting that produces significant ancillary heat, accompanied by high operating costs. We use the latest HVAC technology, which leads to better comfort and cost-savings. Meanwhile, state-of-the-art LED light fixtures produce little heat and cycle on very quickly, so it’s easier to turn lights off when not in use. These lights last longer so schools pay less in maintenance and replacement (and their maintenance staff can focus elsewhere)..
  3.  Update outdoor stadiums to professional-level. We have found that many schools’ stadiums were not originally set up with proper lighting, which not only makes the big game less exciting, but also leads to high costs. By contrast, the latest LED lighting technology saves so much money that schools we work with are able to update their stadium lighting to pro-quality Musco LED fixtures. To the benefit of the entire community, these fixtures light the field, not the neighborhood around it. Advanced lighting systems make sports experiences feel more special and bring the community together over shared pride for their home team. And the leader of the district can feel good about the “lens” that he or she is viewed through by the community.

Athletics isn’t the only priority for K-12 school districts. Innovative funding solutions also allow administrators to create more comfortable classrooms and improve safety and security. 

To learn more about how Schneider Electric can help your school district achieve its vision, visit