In keeping with the trend toward better energy efficiency, the state of California has implemented a program designed to make it easier for school districts to adopt greener power strategies. Known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, or simply Proposition 39, in-state administrators can learn how to benefit their districts by understanding the provisions of the program. Additionally, Proposition 39 can also serve as a model for other state or federal organizations to look to when considering their own measures.
Giving districts the power for change
The California Clean Energy Jobs Act is a provision to the income tax code designed to provide educational institutions with financial resources to improve their energy efficiency. According to the California Energy Commission, there is approximately $550 million in annual funding available to school districts to help them implement greener power consumption practices. Interested school districts need only submit an energy expenditure plan outlining the costs needed for improvement, and the resulting projected energy output. The proposition even allows for schools to receive part or all of their budgetary allocations in their first year to accommodate a district's specific capital budget parameters.
Encouragingly, Proposition 39 is being lauded as an effort that can save money in the long run. In an interview with Green Technology, kW Engineering founding principal Jim Kelsey stated that the initiative has the potential to save between $140 million and $200 million per year in energy costs.
Steps to going green
There are a number of initiatives that schools and districts can undertake to improve their energy efficiency. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, power consumption is actually one of the few areas that school can cut back on without negatively impacting educational efficacy for students and teachers. Constructing a school from the ground up with green power in mind is ideal, but even in older buildings, capital and planned maintenance can be undertaken to make things more efficient.
Schools interested in boosting their efficiency aren't necessarily facing a major up-front expenditure. According to the National Association of Energy Service Companies, districts can turn to energy service companies - known as ESCOs - to offer technical and financial assistance throughout the upgrade process. Not only does the NAESC claim that ESCOs can provide valuable technical expertise and guaranteed energy savings with their plans, they also offer a cost-effective method for districts to embrace positive change, even on a budget.