The costs associated with schools' utilities seem to be continuously climbing. Energy can be an expensive - not to mention, environmentally challenging - ordeal for districts across the country.
Schools increase sustainability with natural power sources
A number of school systems have made it their mission to reduce the amount of excess energy that buildings waste by increasing their equipment's efficiency and implementing systems that will foster sustainability. Ultimately, if schools commit to revolutionizing their maintenance efforts and decide to adopt energy-saving equipment in different areas of their buildings, they could lessen their environmental impacts while saving significant budget dollars.
Although there are many ways in which schools can bolster their energy efficiency efforts, one attracting mainstream attention are power generating solutions. There are all kinds of equipment capable of harvesting energy from natural sources, converting it into power that schools can then harness and use to run their buildings. With districts installing systems to leverage solar, wind and geothermal energy, they are able to access a wealth of resources on their own, decreasing their dependence on electric and oil. By generating power on-site, schools can cut out the expensive middlemen and significantly reduce their utilities bills.
Teachers brush up on green tech tools
To assist schools in these energy efficiency endeavors, a number of public and private organizations have dedicated some of their funds to get districts up to speed. For example, one building security and automation company has established a green boot camp, which allows teachers from around the world to come together and learn about different ways to implement equipment and increase school sustainability. According to StarTribune, the business provides scholarships to teachers from every continent - 70 professionals in total - so they can attend a summer workshop that aims to expand their knowledge in terms of the tools and techniques to boost energy efficiency throughout their school buildings.
"The whole idea is that the teachers can come out of this program with energy conservation ideas for what they can practically implement in the classroom. That's what I did," Rob Rand, a science teacher from Minneapolis, told the StarTribune. Rand won one of the Honeywell grants and he plans to build a windmill, as well as head solar and geothermal projects at Olson Middle School, where he works.
Organizations come together for LEED efforts
School districts can consider other programs and resources to ensure all of their buildings are energy-efficient. For instance, districts could participate in the Better Buildings Challenge, part of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program.
Forbes explained that this initiative calls for communities to update their schools' systems and commercial buildings, having them promise to cut down the amount of energy they use by 20 percent over the course of a decade. The nearly 200 organizations - schools included - have already been reducing their energy consumption by an average of 2.5 percent each year.
To help schools kick off these energy endeavors and get their buildings up to LEED standards, officials may want to take advantage of rebates available to reimburse them for their efforts. Likewise, districts should consider the bigger financial picture, as investing in energy-efficient systems will ultimately pay for itself and then some.