Located 45 miles north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, North Branch Area Public Schools (NBAPS) covers 176 square miles and includes seven communities. With more than 3,500 K-12 students and 400 employees, the school district is the largest employer in the area and has more than 588,000 square feet of building space on 158 acres. The mission of NBAPS is to partner with families and communities to challenge all students to achieve their greatest potential and become informed citizens. Recognizing the need to be a good steward of available resources, both financial and environmental, the school district began a program to reduce energy use through education and behavioral changes. Becoming an ENERGY STAR partner was an important part of this process.
EPA has recognized NBAPS as an ENERGY STAR Leader for improving energy efficiency by more than 20 percent across its portfolio of buildings. The district previously was recognized as an ENERGY STAR Leader in 2010 when it improved its energy efficiency by 10 percent. This achievement was the result of a decision made by the school district in February of 2009 to join Schools for Energy Efficiency (SEE). Since that time, the district has monitored and tracked energy usage on a monthly basis. In addition, many educational programs have taken place with students. They include a visit by the Energy Hog in 4th and 5th grade classrooms, reading energy books to kindergarten and first grade classes, an energy game played by 5th and 6th graders, and a monthly edition of the Stall Street Journal put up in restrooms throughout the district to report energy savings and give energy-saving tips to students, staff, and the community. Most recently, SEE Squads have been formed at both the elementary and middle schools to inspect classrooms and highlight both good and bad examples of energy use. Since February of 2009, the school district has avoided costs of over $208,000 through reduced energy use.