K-12 school districts spend over $8 billion nationwide on energy costs each year. More than 30 percent of energy use goes to waste and ten percent can be saved by implementing low-cost measures. This page will help you learn how to assess your building's energy efficiency, find financing, save energy, and earn recognition.
Benchmarking energy and water use is the first step to understanding and improving your school's performance, and continuously monitor performance in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Benchmarking in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® can help identify underperforming buildings and verify savings. This no-cost tool allows you to compare your school's energy performance to similar buildings across the nation.
Learn About Funding Programs
- The Inflation Reduction Act stands to defray the costs of ground-source heat pumps, solar energy systems, and energy storage for any districts that install these technologies over the next decade.
- The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure includes plans to invest in more efficient, energy-saving school buildings, to improve classroom air quality through the American Rescue Plan, and to support schools with other sustainable goals.
- The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 establishes the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER), which provides funding for K-12 schools to maintain healthy facilities and improve ventilation to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Funds can be used for inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities.
- Bookmark DOE's page on Grants for Energy Improvements at Public School Facilities.
Get Smart About Financing
- Our Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator helps you decide when to finance energy efficiency projects. Estimate how much new equipment you can finance using anticipated savings, as well whether you should finance now or wait for a lower interest rate.
- Understand all the different ways to finance energy-efficiency projects.
To save energy, EPA recommends that you start with low- to no-cost measures, then use those savings to finance larger improvements. Follow the steps below:
- First, establish an energy management plan using the ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management.
- Visit our save energy section to find eight energy-saving strategies or look for help from an expert.
- Find ways to engage children with efficiency using the K-12 Energy Efficiency Student Toolkit.
- To ensure continuous healthy indoor air quality in the long-term, your school can also implement IAQ and ventilation improvements as part of a comprehensive Indoor Air Quality Management Program.
ENERGY STAR is the single most trusted environmental label in the United States. It's recognized by nearly 90% of American households. Show the world that your organization is saving energy, saving money, and protecting the planet by earning ENERGY STAR recognition. Depending on your achievement levels, you can apply for recognition for your building, your leased tenant space, or your entire organization.
- ENERGY STAR Certification for Buildings: For existing commercial buildings that operate more efficiently than 75% of similar buildings nationwide.
- ENERGY STAR NextGen Certification for Buildings: For existing commercial buildings that are both energy efficient and low carbon (coming in 2024).
- Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR: For new commercial construction projects that are designed to operate more efficiently than 75% of similar buildings nationwide.
- ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award: For organizations that have made outstanding environmental contributions through energy efficiency.
- Join DOE's Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign. It provides resources and recognition for K-12 schools--especially those serving low-income and underserved student populations--to reduce energy costs and improve energy performance and indoor air quality.