LAUSD Leads Zero Net Energy Schools

By Jen Singer, ICF on Dec 10, 2018

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), a Better Buildings Challenge partner, was announced as a winner of the 3rd-annual Zero Net Energy (ZNE) School Leadership Award at the Green California Schools and Community Colleges Summit. The award was presented by the New Buildings Institute in the category of “Outstanding District in Zero Net Energy” and Christos Chrysiliou, Director of Architecture and Engineering Services at LAUSD, represented the district. LAUSD was selected due in part to actions taken by the district to become ZNE-ready. These actions included the installation of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic panels with a generating capacity of 21 MW and the investment of more than $141 million in energy efficiency improvements funded by California’s Prop 39 energy efficiency grants. The district is also facilitating a series of eco-literacy programs and incentives:

  • HEROES for ZERO – A contest that challenges K-12 student teams to help make their schools ZNE-ready by reducing energy consumption, maximizing energy efficiency, and educating fellow students and staff;
  • Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) – An environmental literacy pilot program that allows three participating LAUSD middle schools to have their teachers and principals attend CELF's Summer Institute to receive training and curriculum planning support;
  • LAUSD emPowered – An online team-based interactive energy education program pilot with the Alliance to Save Energy begun in the 2018/2019 school year;
  • Student Energy Audit Training – A training program to provide students with hands-on real-world experiences in conducting energy audits to prepare them for potential energy-related careers;
  • Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools – A partnership with several Los Angeles organizations to provide storm water management education and awareness to students.

The Summit brought together K-12 schools, community colleges, and associated stakeholders to share best practices in energy management and explore new emerging technologies. In addition to being recognized, LAUSD also took part in leading discussions about incorporating environmental principles into classroom instruction. Mr. Chrysiliou moderated a panel alongside LAUSD officials Ayham Dahi, Annette Mercer, and Christopher Sims discussing the role of eco-literacy in shaping the educational landscape. LAUSD’s presentation featured an aggressive awareness and outreach campaign to incorporate science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) into its curriculum and focus on classroom best practices, including electronic power management, reducing water waste, and increasing recycling.

LAUSD joined the Better Buildings Challenge in 2016 committing to a 20% reduction in energy and water consumption by 2024. To date, the district has realized cumulative savings of a 4% energy reduction and an 8% water reduction since 2017. LAUSD also serves as an active participant in the Zero Energy Schools Accelerator. Visit LAUSD’s profile page to learn more about their partnerships. More information on the BBC K-12 school sector and the Zero Energy Schools Accelerator can be found on the Better Buildings Solutions Center.