This guide focuses on clean energy financing options for school administrators, facility managers, and other K-12 school decision makers who are considering investments in high performance school projects. This guide explicitly focuses on comprehensive energy upgrades, those that involve multiple measures and are targeted toward achieving significant energy savings. Successful implementation of clean energy upgrades in schools is a matter of understanding the opportunity, making the commitment, and creatively tapping into available financing. This guide attempts to provide the foundation needed for successful projects in U.S. schools. It walks through the financing options available to K-12 schools and provides case studies of six school districts from around the country.
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This guide covers each major step in procuring a solar photovoltaic (PV) system:
- Conducting technical and financial studies
- Financing a PV system
- Project execution
- Operations and maintenance
- Assessing benefits
The guide provides information on the basic steps, key considerations, and where to go for more information. It is intended to provide an overview and some level of detail, with pointers to highly detailed information and resources.
On December 6, 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the launch of a new partnership to jump-start zero energy schools across the country. The Zero Energy Schools Accelerator enables states and school districts alike to design, construct, and operate these cutting-edge, energy-saving schools. This press release highlights the importance of the Accelerator by featuring a completed zero energy school, Discovery Elementary in Arlington, Virginia.
This fact sheet discusses NREL's production of conceptual microgrid designs—plans for electrical generation and distribution systems capable of autonomous operation—that deliver reliable, economical, and sustainable energy.
"This paper discusses the evidence regarding daylighting and student performance and development, and presents four case studies of schools that have cost effectively implemented daylighting into their buildings."
This study expands and validates previous research by Heschong Mahone Group that found a statistical correlation between the amount of daylight in elementary school classrooms and student performance. The researchers reanalyzed student performance data from two school districts to answer questions raised by the previous study. The results are consistent with the original findings and affirm that daylight has a positive and highly significant association with improved student performance.
Despite the humid climate and lack of financial incentives, the American South is a hotbed of zero energy school construction.
"Education for Sustainability (EfS) empowers students to make decisions that balance the need to preserve healthy ecosystems with the need to promote vibrant economies and equitable social systems for all generations to come. Through a variety of EfS approaches, schools across the country and at all grade levels are currently satisfying curricular and achievement requirements and providing learning experiences that prepare students for the world they will inherit."
"Energy conservation presents a compelling and rich opportunity for K-12 schools. Historically, energy expenses in schools have been treated as relatively fixed and inevitable, flowing steadily in the background as administrators concentrated on urgent needs and programmatic priorities. There is growing awareness, however, that a focus on energy use in schools yields an array of important rewards in concert with educational excellence and a healthful learning environment. And there is new interest in behavior-based initiatives through which faculty, staff and students can be significant players in changing a school’s energy profile."
A report with case studies on 15 Zero Energy schools in the U.S., prepared to help Baltimore City Schools in its building planning.