The annual energy bill for America’s primary and secondary schools is $6 billion— more than is spent on textbooks and computers combined. “Every dollar spent on energy impacts teaching and learning because it takes economic vitality away from the core mission of teaching and learning,” says Roger Young, principal at Roger Young & Associates, an Andover, MA-based consultant to the education industry. “For that reason alone, schools should aggressively pursue strategic energy management planning.”
School districts can and have used the savings from improved energy performance to help pay for building improvements and other upgrades that enhance the learning environment. Some schools are taking action because of the opportunities inherent in energy management, but many have remained passive due to uncertainty about where or how to start. The good news is you can begin almost anywhere.
Here are some tips and resources to help you get started.
It’s important that the community become aware of the energy consumption that they are responsible for. Simple changes in people’s behavior can quickly lead to significant energy savings, but such changes will only happen if the people are aware of the energy consumption that they have the power to control. Education is key. There are numerous programs that can help with these initiatives such as Clear Air - Cool Planet, ENERGYSTAR and Need.org.
2. Focus on Behavioral Changes
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple behavioral audit. Until wasteful behaviors are identified, they can’t be changed. Institutions might consider online utilities where students can see energy consumption of one classroom versus another in real time. Fostering competition and making responsible consumption fun are two keys to changing behavior.
3. Involve Everyone – Kids, Teachers, Parents
If students believe in the cause, students will get involved. So will teaching staff, parents and other community members. More people can be drawn into the energy management program through active training and education. Involving everyone affiliated with the school translates to greater achievements. Reward those involved with recognition, praise, and respect.
4. Implement Quick Fixes
There are many actions that can be taken to yield immediate returns. Some of these include:
- Removing refrigerators from classrooms.
- Replacing lighting with more energy-efficient bulbs.
- Regulating temperatures without risk of human tampering.
- Keeping doors and windows closed.
5. Refer to Resources:
- Appliance Cost Calculator
- Energy Cost Calculator
- Example of Energy Conservation Plan