Back to all Project Ideas / Reduce Energy Use
Did you know that buildings consume approximately 39 percent of the energy and 74 percent of the electricity produced annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy?
Schools spend about $8 billion a year on energy—more than on books and computers combined—but almost a third of that money is lost through wasted energy. That’s expensive both for your school, and for the natural world which supplies our resources. But you have the power to make your school run efficiently. Using simple tools, you’ll be able to conduct an audit of your school’s energy and water use, and put your school on the path to savings.
Measure your impact
Track the kWh saved this year or just on your day of action. Either work with your facilities staff to choose a baseline energy use and see how much lower you can go, or estimate your impact by adding up the amount that was likely saved through each of your actions. You can track your school's energy data throughout the school year using Arc, the online, building performance platform, to identify areas of inefficiencies.
- Get an overview of how a school uses energy from the EPA.
- Look to the school’s facilities department or your local utility provider for support in conducting an energy walkthrough or a more comprehensive audit of your school.
- Consider working with a free online energy tracking program such as Energy Star Portfolio Manager or an online audit resource like the Cool Schools Challenge.
- Connect student learning with sustainability action. Learning Lab offers high-quality classroom content — over 450 lessons — for teachers from kindergarten to high school. Use the "Advanced Filters" to find more than 50 lessons at all grade levels that increase your students' energy literacy. You can find more modules to educate students about sustainability by searching Learning Lab's catalog by theme, primary subject, grade or keyword.
- Educate school staff on what what supports or impedes healthy, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable learning spaces. The Green Classroom Professional Course breaks down the different aspects of building sustainability, including energy efficiency, and identifies the effects they have on school occupants and the environment.
- Check the Green Strides portal from the Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools program for updated resources from federal agencies and partners.
- U.S. Department of Energy Energy Detectives and Energy Walkabout student activities.
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s energy education series for elementary through high school classrooms.
- U.S. EPA’s Beautiful World coloring and activity book.
- The Center for Green Schools’ Powering Down Guide for behavior-based energy saving solutions for K-12 schools.
- The Alliance to Save Energy’s “Energy Hog” resource series.
- The Energy Coalition program, PEAK Student Energy Action, which includes knowledge quizzes, student activities, and teacher resources
- The ENERGY STAR program at EPA offers schools tools to involve students in benchmarking the energy use of their school using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and conducting an Efficiency Treasure Hunt to find simple ways to save energy.
- Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience 2017-18 Green Schools Quest
- Barcelona Middle School Energy Study
Materials for this project
If applying for a mini-grant through the DonorsChoose.org site, these materials among others are included in the site's available vendors: