School Energy Efficiency Strategies

Did you know the nation’s over 17,000 K-12 school districts spend more than $8 billion annually on energy (more than is spent on computers and textbooks combined)? States spend more on energy than any other school-related expense, aside from personnel. As much as 30% of a district’s total energy is used inefficiently, which has a significant impact: In addition to wasting money, using 1 kWH of electricity can result in over two pounds of carbon dioxide being emitted! In contrast, ENERGY STAR certified schools use 35% less energy than typical buildings and emit 35% less carbon dioxide.

Through simple changes in behavior, a significant reduction in school energy usage can be achieved quickly and easily. In fact, a school that engages in good energy practices can end up using over one-third less energy than the average school! By implementing energy conservation measures and using energy efficient technologies, schools can easily reduce energy bills by 5-20% without significant capital investment. Even better, school districts can use the savings from lower energy bills to pay for building upgrades that enhance the health and quality of the learning environment. Learn more about opportunities to create fun and efficient energy savings programs at your school!

Tip: Also visit our National & State Green School Programs page to learn more about local and national Green School programs and resources to help you improve the health & sustainability of your school!

Before You Start

Form an Action Team

Green Existing Schools: Energy Management Web Training (8mins)

Green Existing Schools: Energy Management Companion Guide

View a Model Program: Montgomery Co. School Energy & Recycling Team (SERT)

Design and Preparation

Conduct a General Environmental Review Checklist

Assess Your School’s Energy Usage

Finance Your Project:

  • ENERGY STAR: Finance Energy Efficiency Projects
  • Save Energy, Save Money: Energy Financing Options
  • Implementation

    Create an Energy Action Plan (review options & develop an action plan)

  • Simple Steps to Save Energy
  • Implement a PowerSave Schools Program
  • Toolkit to Create an Energy Conservation Program: Center for Green Schools
  • Power It Down: Implement a Low Carbon IT Campaign
  • Conduct a Lights Out! Campaign
  • Plan an Energy Efficiency Competition
  • Energy.Gov: Energy Competitions for K-12 Students
  • Participate in the Green Energy Challenge!
  • Renewable Energy & Green Roofs: Solar Panels, Geothermal, Wind
  • Using Your Project

    Energy.Gov: Energy Literacy Education (including alignment with NGSS)

    Energy.Gov: Lesson Plans, Science Projects & Activities (K-12)

    Energy.Gov: Energy Literacy Videos

    Energy.Gov: Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy 101 Video Series

    National Energy Education Development Project: Curriculum Resources

    EPA Lesson Plans on Energy (K-12)

    PowerSave Schools Lesson Plans

    PowerSave Schools Resources: Teachers & Students


    Project Learning Tree: Energy & Society Kit

    Bay Backpack Climate Change Lessons & Activities

    Eco Schools K-12 Resources for Educators

    Eco School National Standards & Curriculum Alignment

    Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings

    Green Education Foundation: Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

    Learning Lab Sustainability Lessons

    EPA MyEnvironment: Search Tool of Environmental Data by Zipcode

    Eco Schools Green STEM Initiative

    Resource Center

    Project Resource Library: Learn More!
    Energy.Gov: U.S. Department of Energy Education Homepage
    National & State Green School Programs
    Bay Backpack Teaching Resources Search Engine
    EPA Learning & Teaching About the Environment (awards, resources, more)