There are many challenges to including energy education in the school curriculum. Among these challenges are funds for resources and support materials. Fortunately, one of the best resources to teach students about energy is readily available to teachers: Their school building!
Through a school building, students can learn where their energy comes from, how it is consumed, and how it leaves the school. They can identify areas where energy is wasted and how it can be used more efficiently. Academic standards in math, science, language arts, technology education, and many other disciplines can be addressed by simply investigating the flow of energy through the building.
In addition to being an ideal resource for teaching about energy, there are added benefits to knowing the flow of energy through a school building, including reducing a school’s utility costs by saving energy. Next to personnel, a school’s energy costs are often the most expensive budget item. Paying less for energy means more funds may be available for other things, including school supplies and resources.
Energy & Your School Toolkit
A Toolkit for Teachers, Students, Administrators and Facility Personnel
Around the state, many school districts are proving that energy smart building choices can significantly reduce their operating costs and, at the same time create better places to teach and learn. To utilize a school building to its fullest potential, a connection should be made between the building’s energy management practices, the school curriculum, and the behaviors of the building's occupants.
The Energy & Your School Toolkit provides materials and activities designed to help school communities investigate and document building energy use and energy management policies and incorporate energy education into the curriculum school-wide.
KEEP staff are available to come to your school building to facilitate any of the initiatives outlined below by engaging with your teachers, students, facility personnel and/or community. Contact
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-346-4320 for more information or to schedule a visit.
|Myths About Energy in Schools
Take a look at some of the myths and misconceptions about energy in schools and learn the facts that can help school districts make smart energy choices. Around the country, many school districts are already proving that energy smart building choices can significantly reduce their operating costs and, at the same time, create better places to teach and learn.
|Host a Teacher Workshop
Know the flow of energy in your school building. This workshop focuses on evaluating energy use in your building and district and guiding teachers, staff and facility personnel towards utilizing the school building as a teaching tool to meet energy savings and energy education goals. Educators develop energy action plans outlining how staff and students can reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency in their school building.
|Integrate Energy Curriculum
Activities such as Pulling the Plug on Phantom Loads, Light and Your Load, Cost of Computers, and Demanding School Electric Bills focus on students evaluating energy use in their school building and developing energy-savings action plans. The hands-on, interdisciplinary lessons are tailored to Wisconsin and include all required handouts, assessment strategies, and comprehensive descriptions of the activity. Activities align to select state and national academic standards and are available for free download to educators anywhere.
|Create an Energy Committee
Creating an Energy Committee in your school will provide a means to bring together many different people from the school community that are motivated to work together on energy initiatives. The committee members may change over the years, but with an established committee in place, there is a better chance that energy conservation and awareness will continue to be a priority in the district.
Determine Baseline Energy Consumption
Awareness of your building’s current energy consumption and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions is an important first step to creating an energy action plan. Information gathered by analyzing your school’s energy bills and other basic information about the building and its energy systems will help you prioritize energy efficiency projects and goals, as well as verify and track energy savings goals overtime. Ask your facilities manager if the school has a recent energy baseline established through Focus on Energy or another energy management service provider. The EPA created ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, an online free tool you can use to measure and track energy consumption and receive a 1–100 ENERGY STAR® score comparing your building’s performance to similar buildings nationwide.
|Conduct an Energy Audit
Data collected during an energy audit is the best way to determine where your building is losing energy and where you can save. Equipment is used to detect sources of energy loss and analyze building occupant behaviors. An energy audit report identifies areas of improvement and makes recommendations for saving energy and money. Your school administrator might have the results of a professional energy audit conducted by Focus on Energy or some other agency or local utility.
|Develop School Energy Policy and Education Plans
Many school districts in Wisconsin have adpoted energy management policies that improve a school's operational productivity and reduce costs. This template provides a step-by-step framework to help schools address not only energy management practices, but also incorporate energy education into the curriculum and build a school-wide culture of sustainability.
Attain Green Building Certification
Achieving certification is not necessary to maintaining and operating a healthy and high-performing building; however, certification programs provide accountability and recognition to guide building maintenance, renovation and new construction. The following are a few of the well-known certification programs for schools: ENERGY STAR® for Buildings, LEED® for Schools, WELL Building Standard, and Green Globes.
|Achieve Green & Healthy Schools Recognition
Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin empowers, supports and recognizes schools for nurturing healthy kids and sustainable communities. Wisconsin participates in the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program recognizing schools, districts, and early learning centers.