Larsen visits Meadowdale High School to discuss replacing LED lighting

LYNNWOOD– Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) met with Edmonds School District Superintendent Dr. on Monday, May 20. Rebecca Miner and other ESD staff for a tour of Lynnwood’s Meadowdale High School, where he discussed a recent $2.2 million earmark request to replace fluorescent lighting with LED lighting at three schools.

ESD Superintendent Rebecca Miner (left) with Rep. Rick Larsen (right), touring Meadowdale High School on May 20, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

The three schools – Meadowdale High School, Edmonds-Woodway High School and Meadowdale Middle School – are currently each equipped with nearly 2,000 fluorescent lights, which cost between $800,000 and $1 million per school to replace. The recently requested $2.2 million in federal dollars will be matched with the school district’s own bond dollars, but the federal grant could expand these funds to replace twice as many locations, according to Will Thompson, Design and Construction Manager for the Edmond School District Capitol Projects Department. the Lynnwood Times.

The $2.2 million that Larsen’s office is seeking is part of the annual appropriation process. Larsen’s earmark request for the Edmonds School District will be considered by House appropriators for inclusion in the FY 2025 spending package. Larsen recently secured a total of $19,326,729 for fifteen local projects in the FY 2024 spending package, which local elected officials and community leaders were identified as critical to their communities.

Meadowdale’s LED retrofit project finished at the top of the list of local projects for fiscal year 2025, Larsen said, due to its focus on a greener environment and improving education.

Rep. Rick Larsen (left) touring the Meadowdale High School library on May 20, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

“LED lighting is much more efficient, it is better for the eyes, it is better for the students, the administration and the faculty here and it improves the learning environment” said Rep. Larsen.

Larsen added that he is particularly excited about the modifications and lighting that will be done in the school library, as he is a fan of libraries himself.

The switch to LED will benefit both the environment and the students’ learning experience, the school district says.

LED lighting has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels due to its ability to mimic the mood effects and circadian impact of natural light. With lower stress levels comes higher concentration and with higher concentration comes a higher success rate, Superintendent Miner explained.

In terms of the environment, LED lamps are simply more energy efficient, do not produce toxic elements, require fewer lighting fixtures and have a longer lifespan.

An example of fluorescent lighting at Meadowdale High School that the school hopes will have funding approved to replace with LED lighting. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

“We really couldn’t be more excited about this project as we consider its potential to improve the classroom environment for our students. That is of course priority number one for us: getting our students into the best possible learning environments.” said Superintendent Rebecca Miner. “Lighting is vitally important, there has been a lot of research into lighting and the ways in which it affects our students, and we think this could really help them, and their learning, and their ability to concentrate here at our school. Additionally, we are excited about the energy savings this will bring to us and our entire community.”

On March 25, 2022, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed the Clean Buildings Expansion Act, which applied to buildings 20,000 square feet or larger, including multifamily properties. As part of the first phase of that law, buildings were required to implement an energy management plan and an operations and maintenance program. It was then that the Edmonds School District began assessing where its schools could improve or replace existing infrastructure.

Taine Wilton, Director of Capital Projects for the Edmonds School District, led the grant writing effort in April and in a surprisingly quick turnaround, the grant was approved just a month later in May.

The school district is still waiting for final processing from the federal government before hiring an engineer to do preliminary planning for the project. Once the design is finalized, the project will take approximately one year to complete, but as of now the calendar date for a construction date will depend on the federal government’s timeline.

The project will completely remove existing fluorescent lighting systems in all three schools, components of which will be properly recycled and disposed of. The new LED lighting systems will have dimming and color changing capabilities and will have a switch-off timer to save energy with motion activation when needed.

The Snohomish County Publics Utility District is partnering with the Edmonds School District on this project as part of its Key Accounts Program – which aims to maintain key relationships with school districts, hospitals and other large, important, critical customers.

Doug O’Donnell, PUD account manager, informed the Lynnwood Times that the PUD’s interest is in energy efficiency – to expand the available energy they have to keep rates in check.

“If we use what we have wisely, we can keep rates low, instead of waste and the need to go to market and build new energy sources, transmission lines, distribution lines and the like.” said O‘Donnell.

To work efficiently with school districts, the Snohomish County PUD was able to offer the ESD financial incentive for its LED retrofit project by calculating the savings from its new LED lighting and offering a one-time payment, based on those new rates, to help with the initial project costs.

During Monday’s tour, Representative Larsen was guided around Meadowdale High School by Superintendent Miner and accompanied by members of the ESD Capital Projects Department, visiting the gymnasium, cafeteria, great room, library and select classrooms.

Earlier in the day, and prior to Larsen’s tour of Meadowdale, he visited the Asian Service Center in Edmonds to learn more about the services the nonprofit provides to Asian and other underserved communities in Snohomish County.