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 The Division of the State Architect's Sustainable Schools Resource

Energy Resources

Energy Resources

Since the 1970's, Californians' view of energy has dramatically changed. It has evolved from being a seemingly infinite resource to being one that needs to be carefully managed and conserved. In addition, with the emerging pressures of global climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions, it is imperative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by shifting our current energy demand from carbon-intensive fossil fuels towards renewable energy resources. "Sustainable" schools should be models of energy efficiency. They can support sustainable energy efforts by using an integrated design process that takes into consideration everything from building siting and orientation, to the buildings shape and the landscaping around it, to the lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation sources.

Integrated design strategies can result in long and short-term savings. For example, reduced heat from an energy efficient lighting system and good natural ventilation designs can reduce the cooling demand, and thus the size and cost of the air conditioning units. All members of the design team should meet early on in the planning process and continue to coordinate integrated design concepts throughout the project in order to reduce energy costs. The end result of integrated design is reduced overall energy consumption, thus saving construction costs through the downsizing of the systems and on-going costs of operation through reduced utility bills.

Many programs are available to help schools build energy-efficient facilities. Educate students about energy issues and to install renewable energy systems in schools. By taking advantage of these programs, schools can realize cost savings, better educate their students and help to ensure a cleaner, more stable environment for the future.

Further Subtopics

Efficient Systems
Natural Ventilation
Building Envelope
Daylighting & Controls
Occupancy Sensors & Individual Controls
Reduction of Heat Islands
Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources

Featured Resources

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.

California Energy Commission (CEC) - Bright Schools Program
The Bright Schools Program offers specific services to help schools become more energy wise, at little or no cost to the schools. This program can provide design consultation, identify cost-effective energy-saving measures, compare different technologies, develop specifications for energy-efficient equipment, help select architects and other design professionals with school construction and energy-efficiency expertise, review construction plans, and complete value engineering of specific energy-efficiency measures.

California Energy Commission (CEC) - Database for Energy Efficient Resources (D.E.E.R.)
The Database for Energy Efficient Resources (DEER) contains extensive information on selected energy-efficient technologies and measures. The DEER provides estimates of the average cost, market saturation, and energy-savings potential for these technologies in residential and nonresidential applications.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Energy Star for K-12 School Districts Program
The Energy Star for Schools program assists facilities decision-makers in improving their school's energy performance and labeling their buildings as Energy Star certified. Most of the information on the website applies to facilities in general, rather than to schools specifically.

Savings by Design
A program that offers services and incentives to help architects and building owners raise energy performance to a top priority when planning new facilities. The program is funded by California utility customers and administered by PG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas.

Alliance to Save Energy - Green Schools Program
The Green Schools program is specifically geared toward school districts looking to make their existing buildings more efficient. The website offers helpful guidelines for starting a program. Also available through the website are free materials that include key learning concepts for green schools, an annotated bibliography of green schools instructional resources, curriculum materials, and information about ways to save energy in schools. The Alliance to Save Energy produces a green schools newsletter and organizes the "Earth Apple Awards" - prizes for schools that use energy efficiently.

U.S. Department of Energy - EnergySmart Schools
EnergySmart Schools is a campaign of the Department of Energy and its Rebuild America program. EnergySmart Schools offers schools training workshops, publications, recognition, direct technical assistance, financing options, and a host of other resources toward making school facilities more energy efficient. Resources available on the website include step-by-step guidance for making schools more energy efficient, classroom materials and activities, and information about school buses.

California Integrated Waste Management Board - School Energy Efficiency Program (SEE)
SEE Program provides educational and facility-related resources to school districts in California's Central Valley including energy efficiency education for students, teachers, and administration, school facility improvement services with technical assistance and maintenance training, and curriculum development for using improved school sites as a teaching tool.

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities - Energy Savings
NCEF's resource list of links, books, and journal articles providing extensive resources on various methods of heating, cooling, and maintaining new and retrofitted K-12 school buildings and grounds.

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