Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
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Energy Efficient Schools and Students: Background and Overview
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons to Change
Barriers to Change
P2 Opportunities
Case Studies
Glossary of Terms
Key Contacts
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Alliance to Save Energy: Saving Energy in Schools
This portion of the Alliance to Save Energy web site includes best practices for controlling energy ...

Energy Star for K-12 Districts
Estabishing a comprehensive energy management program, getting started with fact sheets, evaluating ...

GLRPPR Educational Institutions Sector Resource
This Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) Sector Resource provides a compil...

Green Schools: Attributes for Health and Learning
Evidence has accumulated that shows that the quality of indoor environments can affect the health an...

Greening America's Schools: Costs and Benefits
Written by Gregory Kats, this report is intended to answer this fundamental question: how much more ...

LEED for Schools
LEED recognizes schools and has developed a schools rating systems that can be adapted to the unique...

Midwest Buildings Technology Application Center (MBTAC)
This web site is a project of the Energy Center of Wisconsin and the University of Illinois at Chica...

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF)
Created in 1997 by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Faci...

School Operations and Maintenance: Best Practices for Controlling Energy Costs
Prepared by Princeton Energy Resource International, HPowell Energy Associates and the Alliance to S...

USGBC Build Green Schools
Launched on October 16, 2007 by the U.S. Green Building Council, this site is filled with profiles o...

<big><b>Energy Efficient Schools and Students: Background and Overview </b></big> Escalating energy costs and an increased awareness of how our actions impact the environment are forcing our nation's schools to explore energy efficient technologies and practices. As these energy costs increase, schools then become more costly to operate and maintain, resulting in less funding available for academics. According to the ENERGY STAR program, the "annual energy bill for America's primary and secondary schools is $6 billion--more than is spent on textbooks and computers combined." They further state, "the least efficient schools use three times more energy than the best energy performers."

Numerous ways exist to reduce energy costs of existing buildings. Some, such as caulking around windows, are simple and can be easily implemented without capital costs, while others, such as retrofitting lighting, can have upfront capital costs. Likewise, simple and more complex energy efficiency projects exist for new construction. Daylighting and passive solar heating are uncomplicated, but using photovoltaic panels requires equipment to be installed, and capital costs.

Some common steps for reducing energy consumption include the following:

  • Assess the energy consumption of the building using an energy analysis tool, such as the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
  • Identify staff and financial resources for developing an energy program and associated modifications and replacements
  • Educate decision makers in the school and community about the need to reduce energy consumption and about the available options
  • Create an energy efficient operations and management program
  • Establish a school-wide or district-wide energy policy
  • Determine what alternative energy resources are available locally
  • Conduct equipment inventories
  • Conduct energy audits for lighting
  • Evaluate insulation and energy leaks around windows, doors, and vents
  • Implement small, low cost and rapid payback energy-conservation strategies such as turning off computers and office equipment, placing timers on equipment, and installing sensors on lights in rooms rarely used.
  • Educate energy consumers with curricula and usage-based management.

Energy efficiency not only saves money, but it also helps protect human health and the environment. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the top four energy sources in the U.S. are coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric. Producing energy from these sources can have a negative impact on human health, natural resources, and the environment. Through the reduction of energy consumption the environmental footprint of the school is reduced and the school/district produces less pollution, consumes fewer natural resources, creates a healthier living environment and saves money.

Focusing on energy efficiency in schools will have multiple benefits:

  • Students, teachers, staff, and administrators will become more aware of their personal behaviors regarding energy consumption,
  • Funding dedicated to energy use can be redirected to academic needs,
  • Schools will be encouraged to use alternative resources for energy,
  • Classroom learning environments will become more comfortable,
  • Contributions to global warming and other environmental issues will be decreased, and
  • The energy efficiency message from school will inspire conservation strategies at home.

There are many variables to consider when embarking on an energy efficiency project. For schools, initial cost is usually the determining factor. Other considerations include: climate; location, building configuration, size and placement; whether the project involves new construction; and, creating a healthy and safe learning environment.

Schools are responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment, and for keeping students and staff comfortable. The quality of the student learning environment affects measurable academic outcomes. Incorporating energy efficiency into building upgrades or new construction will positively impact the learning environment.

This topic hub addresses reasons to make schools energy efficient, barriers to doing so, techniques for improving energy efficiency, and links to energy efficiency resources.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Energy Efficient Schools and Students Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 7/6/2011

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).


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