Tips and Links for Implementing a School-Wide Energy Efficiency Program

Are you interested in launching a school-wide energy efficiency program? Use these ten steps from the Alliance’s Green Schools Program to get you started.

  • Step 1. Identify an Energy Efficiency "champion" who knows the school system well and can provide the vision and initial drive to get the program started. The champion finds internal support for the program, identifies and convenes partners, promotes activities, and troubleshoots problems.
  • Step 2. Establish a Green Schools team within the school building. Involving teachers, custodians, principals, students and even parents will enhance the program's reach and effectiveness.
  • Step 3. Build partnerships within your school and with local organizations and businesses. These partnerships can be a great source of technical, educational, and financial resources.
  • Step 4. Adapt the project to your school's priorities and curriculum. Making the program "your own" will help energy efficiency become a regular part of your school's culture and will likely result in greater long-term savings.
  • Step 5. Identify curriculum tie-ins. There are many ways that the Green Schools program can support your school's curriculum. It focuses on education through hands-on experience. Key concepts tie in with science, math, social studies, and economics curricula.
  • Step 6. Develop an agreement with the school district administration to return a percentage of savings to the individual schools that achieve them, to involve both facilities and instructional staff, and to establish their criteria for energy efficient retrofits.
  • Step 7. Establish a strong link between energy and the environment. Protection of the environment is a strong motivator. The project helps students and adults understand that more than 80% of pollution results from the production, consumption, and disposal of energy--and that actions they take really do make a difference.
  • Step 8. Establish a baseline of energy use, if possible, which will allow the school to measure the project's success and to identify problem areas. Local utilities, principals, school & district business services administrators, and/or district energy managers may be willing to assist you in this effort.
  • Step 9. Determine the need for retrofits. Consider what new equipment and/or energy-efficient technology your school might need. Before recommending the purchase of new equipment, be sure to identify the criteria that decisionmakers need in order to invest in new equipment, such as payback period and legally mandated requirements. A good resource here is the U.S. Department of Energy's Rebuild America Program, which offers technical resources to school districts.
  • Step 10. Maintain high visibility for the program to encourage participation. The program is most successful when the whole school and others in the district are involved. An effective strategy is to communicate plans and achievements with key stakeholders in the school community.

School Energy Efficiency Links

  • U.S. Department of Energy’s Rebuild America EnergySmart Schools - Rebuild America's EnergySmart Schools is helping communities improve K-12 school buildings through energy-efficiency improvements and practices.
  • National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project - The mission of the NEED project is to promote an energy conscious and educated society by creating effective networks of students, educators, business, government, and community leaders to design and deliver objective, multi-sided energy education programs.
  • SchoolFacilities.com - SchoolFacilities.com is a leading online education facilities information and marketing services company.  The company helps facility managers make informed decisions by providing the latest school-related news, details about products and essential resources for facility management.
  • ENERGY STAR for K-12 School Districts - ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.  On this site, you can view Guidelines for Energy Management and evaluate your school's energy performance using their benchmarking tool.
  • Flex Your Power - California's statewide energy efficiency marketing and outreach program.  Visit this site for energy saving tools and information for schools.