By installing new lighting systems, purchasing more efficient office equipment, upgrading boilers or retrofitting central plant systems, energy-efficient school buildings can save districts millions. San Diego Unified School District, the nation’s 8th largest, has saved $90 million over the last 12 years from its sustainability measures.
K-12 schools that implement energy-saving measures can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s estimated that school facilities emit about 72 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year—the equivalent of 18 coal-fired power plants or 8.6 million homes. Sustainability efforts at one Pennsylvania district lowered their carbon footprint by 7,000 metric tons, which is the equivalent to the annual emissions of 1,300 cars.
Benefits to the planet also translate to students. Energy-saving actions offer an important teaching opportunity to combat climate change for a generation likely to be more affected by it. Facility upgrades to energy-efficient school buildings can also have other impacts, such as:
- Remedy air quality issues
- Improve comfort and health conditions
- Support better student learning
Studies have shown a correlation between infrastructure and student (and teacher) performance. Poor ventilation from outdated HVAC systems can cause negative impacts to student health, including asthma, headaches, and fatigue, which contribute to lowered concentration and increased absenteeism.