Alliance Urges Congress, States, School Districts To Reduce Second Largest Expense

Release Date: Monday, August 30, 1999

As children across the country head back to financially hard-pressed and often overcrowded schools, the Alliance to Save Energy calls on state governors, Congress, state Departments of Education and Energy, and local school districts to join together to make new and existing schools more energy-efficient to reduce the second largest expenditure for schools and divert those unnecessary energy expenditures to more critical educational needs.

Schools nationwide (K-12) spend more than $6 billion on energy — more than on computers and textbooks combined — and waste about 25 percent of that in inefficient facilities, reports the Alliance, which urges the reduction of school energy waste so that monies can be used instead to teach students.

Some 6,000 new schools will be required over the next 10 years to accommodate the growing number of students; and many existing schools are in need of renovation to reach basic standards of comfort and efficiency for a decent learning environment.

The Alliance board of directors, which includes prominent business, government, consumer, and environmental leaders, notes in a resolution it passed unanimously earlier this summer that "teachers teach and students learn best in an environment that is comfortable, healthy, naturally lit, and in good repair. Studies indicate that student achievement is greater and attendance higher when these conditions are met; yet, most of our nation's schools are in need of renovation to reach this standard of comfort and efficiency."

In addition to creating a healthy, comfortable, and productive learning environment, the Alliance notes that energy-efficient design and construction saves money for school districts, protects the quality of our air and water by maximizing energy resources, and — when students are involved in school efficiency efforts — provides a valuable hands-on learning experience for students that can strengthen their math, science, and communication skills as well as increase energy savings for the school.

The Alliance's Green Schools Program (ase.org/greenschools) demonstrates that a comprehensive energy-efficiency program that involves administrators, facilities staff, teachers, and students in improving school energy efficiency using behavior and operations changes, instruction, and retrofits can increase student learning and comfort as well as save money on energy costs.

"Simple behavior changes alone save some $7,000 per school — and that's a lot of bake sales," reports Alliance President David M. Nemtzow.

The Alliance board resolution calls for:

  • Congress — currently considering legislation that will help school districts build new schools and renovate existing schools — to pass legislation that provides incentives for energy efficiency in the design and renovation of schools.
  • Governors and state departments of education and energy to arrange for design, technical, and financial assistance to schools for support of efficient school design and renovation. The board notes that most school districts do not have the knowledge of cutting-edge design and technologies to implement optimum efficiency into new school construction or into school renovations.
  • Local school districts to initiate community discussions of school design leading to implementation of resource efficiency programs, as well as student learning activities, that take full advantage of performance contracting through energy service companies as well as state and federal assistance programs.