Willoughby Eastlake


The Willoughby-Eastlake School District was facing an aging infrastructure, high energy costs and outdated, inefficient lighting in twelve buildings constructed from 1921 through 1974. Buildings needing retrofits included a high school, a Tech Center, three middle schools and six elementary schools.  Renovations were also needed at the Kennedy building, which had been vacant for twenty-four years. While the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission recommended that every building be torn down and rebuilt, Willoughby sought a more economical solution.


Willoughby-Eastlake leaders undertook a high performance building approach, working with Trane and GE Lighting to accomplish its mission of improving the learning and teaching environment throughout the district. Trane began by conducting an investment-grade audit to identify and prioritize energy conservation measures (ECMs). Based on the results of the audit, district leaders initiated updates across campus, including a complete renovation of the 75,000 sq ft Kennedy building.

The district was able to utilize Ohio State House Bill 264 to secure low-interest funds for the renovations. The house bill enables school districts to fund energy projects to improve the educational environment by using the savings of those funds to drive the project.

Lighting improvements generate significant results

The district replaced old, inefficient lighting fixtures throughout the twelve facilities with state-of-the-art GE 28-watt lamps that provide the right amount of illumination to enable students to read without glare. Classrooms now feature extended-life bulbs, which reduce maintenance costs and eliminate the need to interrupt class or change bulbs after hours, while considerably lowering energy costs.

Comfort improvements and a fresh look

To ensure a consistently comfortable environment throughout district buildings, upgrades included replacing electric boilers and the existing air conditioning units with Trane Voyager™ rooftop units. The new rooftop units deliver high reliability and easy installation, helping to reduce maintenance, operating and upfront expenses. With quiet operation and advanced filtration technology, the Voyager units help to provide a healthier learning environment.

New doors, windows and roofing were installed in the Kennedy building to give the building a fresh look, while retaining the historic architecture of the facility.  Improvements to the building envelope are helping to overcome issues with cold winter drafts and summer heat.


Willoughby-Eastlake School District took an integrated "whole building" approach to optimizing key building systems and technologies, improving the learning environment while saving energy, resources and money. Supporting the mission of K-12 education, the district has created an environment to improve student achievement, enhance classroom comfort and increase teacher productivity. 

The district was able to repurpose the previously vacant Kennedy building to serve the district’s special needs students, which eliminated the need to bus the students to other schools, saving both money and time. The building, now called Kennedy Academy, also houses the district’s early childhood program and offers post-secondary nursing education programs. Five full-time employees were hired to operate the new facility.

The project was funded primarily by the energy savings achieved from the lighting retrofits. The renovation saved the district approximately 4,375,535 kWh, providing nearly $663,000 in energy savings. The estimated energy savings, combined with the benefits of bringing the autism and special needs resources to the district, is saving approximately $1.26 million each year.

The renovations significantly improved the morale for students, teachers and staff. "I would say first and foremost that the greatest impact has been in the attitude of students and staff," said Steve Thompson, superintendent for Willoughby-Eastlake district. "I don’t think there’s any question that the renovations have impacted the way that kids view school and the way that teachers view doing their jobs ... and that leads to higher student achievement.”