Facility and Efficiency Improvements Concerning Energy Efficiency for Healthy School Environments

On this page:

Why It's Important

  • States spend more on energy than any other school-related expense, aside from personnel. 
  • Even without significant investment, schools that target energy efficiency in their operations and maintenance can typically reduce bills by 5 to 20 percent. 
  • The money saved from lower energy bills can help schools pay for building upgrades that enhance the health and quality of the students' learning environment.  

What You Can Do

  • Determine the school's energy use baseline with ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager
  • Conduct a school walk-through to identify areas or rooms where energy efficiency upgrades can be made.
  • Instruct teachers, staff and students to:
    • Turn off lights and electronics when not in use
    • Keep vents clear
    • Never leave outside doors open longer than necessary.
  • Read the Energy and Water Efficiency section of EPA's model K-12 school environmental health program for more information.

EPA and Federal Partners

  • ENERGY STAR for K-12 School Districts describes EPA's partnership with schools across the country to provide technical support, guidance on financing options and recognition for schools wanting to use energy more efficiently. ENERGY STAR has coordinated with EPA's Indoor Air Quality program to address the overlap between energy efficiency upgrades and indoor environmental quality, and it has launched an energy performance rating tool in schools.
  • Green Power Partnership is a voluntary EPA program that can help organizations lower the transaction costs of buying green power, reduce their carbon footprint and communicate their leadership to key stakeholders. The website offers information on technical support, tools and resources.
  • EPA's Energy Savings Plus Health: IAQ Guidelines for School Building Upgrades equips school districts to integrate indoor air quality protections into school energy efficiency retrofits and other building upgrade projects. The guidelines help school districts starting the building retrofit process to optimize energy efficiency upgrades without compromising occupant health.
  • Operating and Maintaining EnergySmart Schools: Web-Based Training introduces energy efficiency concepts, presents energy-saving strategies and helps building managers develop and implement a plan for energy efficiency in schools. The training was created by the U.S. Department of Energy and co-sponsored by the Council of Educational Facility Planners International.
  • Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) from the U.S. Department of Energy provides services, tools and expertise to federal agencies to help them achieve their legislated and executive-ordered energy, greenhouse gas and water goals. These are delivered through project, technical and program services.
  • Cost Savings Associated with a Retrofit of Older Lighting by EPA addresses the benefits of replacing old light fixtures as well as the need to consider eliminating polychlorinated biphenyl-Containing fluorescent light ballasts during remodeling.

National Organizations

  • The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) aims to increase the energy efficiency of public schools by marketing information, service and incentive programs directly to school districts and designers. The Collaborative's goal is to facilitate the design of high performance schools: environments that are not only energy efficient, but also healthy, comfortable and well lit, and contain the amenities needed for a quality education.
  • The PowerSave Schools Program helps schools use energy efficiently through building retrofits, changing operational and maintenance routines and changing the behavior of building users.
  • School Energy Management: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on powering, heating, cooling, lighting and maintaining school facilities to improve energy efficiency and conservation.

Regional, State and Local Resources

Maryland Students Learn About Energy Efficiency

Baltimore Gas and Electric describes lighting and HVAC upgrades in Harford County schools that reduced energy costs and improved the learning environment.

  • Sensible Steps for Healthier School Environmentsby EPA provides an overview of issues related to energy efficiency in schools.
  • School Power...Naturally is a training program from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority that offers free curricular materials and data to encourage the use of solar electric power and wind power in schools.
  • Energy Services for Schools on the Oregon Department of Energy website describes services to help schools become more energy efficient and offers a Resource Conservation Management tool that gives building managers more control over operation costs by promoting environmentally-friendly operations and making smart energy purchases. The website includes several case studies of energy efficiency improvements made by schools and school districts across the state.
  • ConserFund on the South Carolina Energy Office website describes a low-cost revolving loan program for energy efficiency improvements in state agencies, public colleges or universities, school districts, local governments and private nonprofit organizations.
  • School Energy Management Program is described on the Vermont Superintendents Association website. The program helps Vermont schools reduce costs by providing practical advice on energy efficiency and money-saving capital improvements. The website summarizes school energy needs, describes program accomplishments and includes a facility operating plan template.
  • New Jersey K-12 Schools Energy Efficiency and PCB Training Webinar (recorded in 2011) addresses the dangers of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and why schools should consider upgrading their lights, as well as offers case studies and New Jersey resources to become energy efficient.