Florence Unified School District, located in Florence, Arizona, serves a population of more than 8,600 students. The district's buildings represent more than 1,164,800 square feet of space and the school buildings operate on a 180-day teaching schedule, although several campuses have extensive community use on evenings and during weekends. Kids First is the mission of Florence Unified School District, its philosophy focusing on data-driven instruction and academic growth, upholding the motto one year of academic growth every year for every student. With rising energy costs and cuts to district funding, the district's administration views energy efficiency as an opportunity to reduce costs without negatively impacting instruction. The goal of district administrators is to engage students, staff members, and the community in a process to build energy awareness and to educate every student and employee about the environmental benefits of energy efficiency. Without funds to improve mechanical equipment in buildings, behavior management was the most cost-effective means of improving energy efficiency. The district has been an ENERGY STAR Partner since 2010.
Florence Unified School District has been recognized by EPA as an ENERGY STAR Leader for improving energy efficiency by more than 20 percent compared to a 2008 baseline and as a Top Performer for achieving an average ENERGY STAR energy performance score of 79 across its portfolio of buildings. Participation in the ENERGY STAR program has provided the district with many valuable resources and ideas, enabling administrators to meet their energy goals. ENERGY STAR is recognized throughout the nation and brings credibility to the district's energy program. The district's success in improving energy efficiency began with a commitment by the superintendent, who created an energy committee within the district to look at ways to reduce energy costs. A consultant was hired to develop an energy plan and assist the district with its implementation. A key element of the plan is the creation of energy teams in each school (made up of representatives from the school's administration, teaching staff members, students, and custodial staff members). Energy data is tracked and compiled monthly and distributed to all schools and administration, and energy awareness and behavioral changes have resulted in significant savings. The district has prevented the emissions of more than 1,910 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by more than 49,100 tree seedlings planted and grown for 10 years.