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Energy Savings for Schools



Energy costs will continue to rise and in order to prevent schools from incurring these higher bills, local governments are creating and implementing a climate & energy strategy to assist their communities.

The Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series provides a comprehensive, straightforward overview of greenhouse (GHG) emissions reduction strategies for local governments.

Topics include energy efficiency, transportation, community planning and design, solid waste and materials management, and renewable energy.

City, county, territorial, tribal, and regional government staff, along with elected official can use these guides to plan, implement, and evaluate their climate change mitigation and energy projects.


Saving energy through energy efficiency improvements can cost less than generating, transmitting, and distributing energy from power plants, and provides multiple economic and environmental benefits.

Energy efficiency also helps reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, improves energy security and independence while also creating jobs.

Local governments can promote energy efficiency in their jurisdictions by developing and implementing strategies that improve the efficiency of municipal facilities and operations and/or encourage energy efficiency improvements in residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

Benefits for K-12 Schools

There are numerous benefits for K-12 Schools that come with improving energy efficiency throughout school buildings. Focusing on producing substantial energy, environmental, and economic benefits; some of them include:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other environmental impacts
    • Improving energy efficiency in school buildings can help reduce GHG emissions and criteria air pollutants by decreasing consumption of fossil fuels
    • Fossil fuel combustion for electricity generation accounts for 40% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions, a principle GHG, and 67% and 23% of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. This can lead to smog, acid rain, and trace amounts of airborne particulate matter than can cause respiratory problems for many people
  • Reducing energy costs
    • Schools spend approximately $75 per student on gas bills and $130 per student on electricity each year
    • By implementing energy efficiency measures, many K-12 schools have been able to reduce costs by as much as 30% in existing facilities
    • Modification of a pre-existing building for energy efficiency can save a typical 100,000 square-foot school building between $10,000 and $16,000 annually, and simple behavioral and operational measure alone can reduce energy costs by up to 25%
  • Increasing economic benefits through job creation and market development
    • Investing in energy efficiency can stimulate the local economy and encourage development of energy efficiency service markets.
    • According to the Department of Energy (DOE), approximately 60% of energy efficiency investments goes to labor costs and half of all energy-efficient equipment is purchased from local suppliers
    • Across the nation, energy efficiency technologies and services are estimated to have created more than 8 million jobs in 2006
  • Demonstrating Leadership
    • Investing in energy efficiency helps foster market demand for energy-efficient technologies from local residents and businesses, and demonstrates responsible stewardship of public resources since reduced energy costs translate into saved tax dollars
    • In addition, improving energy efficiency can provide an opportunity to introduce children to important energy and environmental issues
  • Improving student performance
    • Energy-efficient school building designs often use natural daylight to reduce the energy needed to light a building
    • Natural light has also been proven to have a positive effect on student performance
    • Improving energy efficiency in K-12 school buildings can have the indirect benefit of improving acoustic comfort, which can also lead to increased student performance
  • Improving indoor air quality
    • Some energy efficiency upgrades can improve occupant health by enhancing indoor air quality
    • Installing energy recovery ventilation equipment, for example, can reduce infiltration of air contaminants from outdoors while significantly reducing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning energy loads

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