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The costs of a green EHS

Jackson Geothermal drills a test hole for the new Elyria High School`s geothermal heating and air conditioning system last month. A $1.1 million payment from Midway Mall owner Centro Watt will help pay for the system.

Among the costlier elements in making a new high school an energy-efficient "green" building: The installation of an underground geothermal system that uses the ground`s natural temperature, about 55 degrees, to regulate the school`s heating-and-cooling system.

The entire "green building" concept could include many other features, including automatic light shutoffs when rooms aren`t in use, recycled and green materials, and special lighting to save on energy.

School officials hope to attain a silver rating in LEEDS, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a program that recognizes environmentally conscious construction. While a LEEDS certification doesn`t merit a financial reward, the effects do: School officials estimate the savings from the program would allow the district to pay off, in just four or five years, the initial $1.7 million cost of going green.

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