How to Conserve Energy at School

Wondering how to conserve energy at your school? Here’s an overview of what you can do to make a difference, and what some other schools are currently doing.

Energy conservation programs are a great way for schools  to foster an environmentally-responsible culture. From official policies, to grassroots educational efforts in the classroom, there are so many way to be sustainable at school.

Conserve Energy in School
CC flickr photo courtesy of Rex Libris

With a financial recession making public budgets even tighter, it makes sense to adopt policies that save energy. Older school buildings often have outdated, inefficient heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems. A complete renovation of these systems isn’t feasible for many districts. But simple, easy-to-adopt solutions are there to save schools money on their energy bills. This financial incentive is also good for the environment; the less energy we burn, the last carbon goes into our atmosphere. Here are some tips you can try at your school, as well as some examples of schools that are taking interesting approaches toward helping the environment.

Ideas for Conserving Energy

  • School-wide action plan – This is an energy audit combined with community-building and can come together in many ways. It’s a great way to involve parents, students, faculty and administrators. Figure out where your district’s greatest wastes are occurring and come up with solutions for them. You could start replacing incandescent bulbs with efficient fluorescent or LED ones, or try to replace old, electricity-guzzling appliances in your school cafeteria. Students could help to oversee school-wide recycling. The Green Schools Initiative, a group started by environmentalist parents that counsels schools on how to become more sustainable, suggests creating tangible goals that can achieved now, as well as far-off targets, to promote innovation. With a project this wide-open, almost everyone should find something they can do to help.
  • Install solar film – This is a cost-effective solution to cut down on UV and infrared solar rays that cause glare and heat buildup. Solar film is an applied tint that blocks the sun and reflects it from windows. Schools in warm climates will spend significantly less on cooling costs with this one-time investment.
  • Car-pooling – This one is an old solution, but a good one. Oil prices fluctuate rapidly these days and the rising trend is expected to continue. Schools can set up ride-share boards and encourage car-pooling among parents, students and teachers. Bus routes can also be examined to ensure that the routes are as fuel-efficient as possible.
  • Environmental Curriculum – From school gardening curriculum, to hands-on science experiments about ecosystems, there are almost limitless ways to integrate our environment into school curriculum. When students are informed and participate in a discussion about our environment, they may, later in life, adopt more sustainable approaches to our common problems. Curriculum ideas about renewable energy will get students thinking about alternative energy sources. This is a long-term investment, but maybe those same students will come up with the next bright idea.

Schools Taking the Lead

The state of Utah has a program that supports energy efficiency in schools. It gives no-interest loans to school districts who wish to improve their energy efficiency and reduce costs. The loans are calculated to be paid with the proceeds from projected school energy savings. Once the loan is paid, schools will get to keep their savings.

Schools, as large public buildings, have a lot of roof space that could be collecting solar energy. Some schools systems are making the move to solar power. There have been many diverse initiatives to get solar cells on top of schools. Here’s an example of schools adopting solar power in New Jersey.

There are many reasons to help preserve the environment. Cost is one of them. When you add the benefit of reducing our impact on our planet while asking children to be environmental stewards, going green at school never looked so good.