Reading, ’Riting, and Renewable Energy

July 1, 2003
Maximizing Building Performance Through Environmental Strategies - PROCESSES
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that America’s schools spend more than $6 billion each year on energy costs alone. Through better design, energy-efficient technologies, and operations and maintenance improvements, the DOE believes schools could save 25 percent of that amount across the country. “That’s $1.5 billion! Imagine how many books, computers, and teachers we could have with that kind of money,” says Daniel Sze, national program manager, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Washington, D.C. To reach that admirable goal, the DOE formed the EnergySmart Schools program in 1998 for K-12 educational facilities. EnergySmart Schools helps school officials save money and energy by developing energy-efficient programs. The program is part of DOE’s Rebuild America that promotes energy saving in communities across the nation.A vast network of community-based partnerships nationwide, Rebuild America is dedicated to:Saving energy.Improving building performance.Reducing air pollution.Enhancing the quality of life through renewable energy.“You can have the best technologies in the world, but if the market is not ready or people do not understand it, the technology does not get used,” says Sze. Rebuild America, based in Washington, D.C., strives to lower information barriers for the building community so that effective cutting-edge techniques can become everyday practices.K-12 schools are a high priority for EERE processes and technologies, because of the educational market’s growth. According to the Council of Educational Facility Planners, Scottsdale, AZ, about 50 percent of schools are in need of modernization. The DOE is hoping to promote energy awareness among school children while creating healthier and more productive learning environments. The EnergySmart Schools program has a two-pronged approach. The program first works with school districts to introduce energy-efficiency improvements to the physical environment. Second, it promotes energy education in schools to encourage future generations to consider renewable energy technologies. The DOE’s initiative focuses on reducing energy costs, increasing the clean energy usage, providing hands-on energy-efficiency lessons to students, and improving the educational environment. EnergySmart Schools’ partners include non-profit organizations, government agencies, trade associations, business partners, and community groups. The program was created in response to questions from school officials, teachers, and parents. “We listened to what they wanted and came up with seven high-performance climate specific guidelines for schools,” says Sze. The guidelines were completed last summer and can be downloaded for review. The EnergySmart Schools’ guidelines feature a technical document for the building team and general educational guidelines for laypeople. Many schools are already leveraging their energy savings to pay for much-needed school improvements.Rebuild America is channeling the growing interest in green design by setting its sights on additional markets, including universities, office buildings, government facilities, and multi-family housing. Adds Sze, “I think colleges and universities are a very powerful potential market because they are at the leading-edge in adopting practices that will translate into how America can live in the future and use green practices.”For additional information on energy-efficient schools, check out these resources: (, (, and EERE’s Clearinghouse at (800) DOE-3732.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Building Better Schools

Download this digital resource to better understand the challenges and opportunities in designing and operating educational facilities for safety, sustainability, and performance...

Tips to Keep Facility Management on Track

How do you plan to fill the knowledge gap as seasoned facility managers retire or leave for new opportunities? Learn about the latest strategies including FM tech innovations ...

The Beauty & Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Built Environment

Biophilic design is a hot trend in design, but what is it and how can building professionals incorporate these strategies for the benefits of occupants? This eHandbook offers ...

The Benefits of Migrating from Analog to DMR Two-Way Radios

Are you still using analog two-way radios? Download this white paper and discover the simple and cost-effective migration path to digital DMR radios that deliver improved audio...