K-12 School Districts

K-12 School Districts

K-12 schools and higher education institutions spend a combined $14 billion on utility costs annually. The education sector continues to balance aging facilities with deferred maintenance challenges, rising utility costs, limited budgets, workforce retention concerns, and an increasing demand for technology in the classroom. To address these challenges, schools are focusing on resiliency preparedness, leveraging creative funding mechanisms, implementing measures to reduce plug loads, and developing workforce skills and training programs to prepare the next generation of energy professionals.

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Browse the list of leading organizations who have stepped up to the Better Buildings Challenge. Sort by sector, location, or A-Z.

The 2020 Summit is Going Virtual

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit is transitioning to a virtual leadership symposium, taking place June 8-11, 2020. Experience 4 days of sessions, workshops, recognition, and more with industry experts and peers.

COVID-19 Resource Center

Dealing with COVID-19 presents an unprecedented scenario for building owners, plant managers, and employees. Better Buildings has collected resources from partners, affiliates, and other organizations that may prove useful.

Featured Solutions

This resource helps states, local school administrators, school boards, and facilities personnel supporting rural school districts make prudent decisions around the use of funds for energy efficiency improvements as a part of their master facilities management plan. 
This collection of Solutions at a Glance from the Better Buildings K-12 partners provides various unique approaches to addressing energy efficiency issues in K-12 public schools. 
This toolkit covers a wide range of guidance, case studies, specifications, and more related to lighting technologies in K-12 schools.
Developed as part of DOE's Zero Energy Schools Accelerator (ZESA), this guide outlines 8 steps to creating a Zero Energy school.
Washington state's Camas School District wanted to set reduction targets for natural resources but lacked a formal policy to guide schools toward its goals. A Resource Management Policy was developed to empower schools to achieve energy, water, and waste goals. This led to a collective energy reduction of 28% over a six-year span.
Douglas County School District implemented a multi-pronged funding approach to address its failing and inefficient maintenance of aging buildings, including an ESPC, grants, and bonds. The $5.1 million ESPC project is paying for itself through $456,000 in guaranteed annual energy cost savings.
Portland Public Schools funded energy efficiency projects through a hybrid Energy Savings Performance Contracting model, achieving $1.2 million in annual energy cost savings across 80+ facilities.
Poudre School District executed a strategic outreach campaign to illustrate the value of infrastructure and efficiency upgrade projects, resulting in internal and external organizational changes in support of the upgrades.
Bullitt County Public Schools selected Mt. Washington Elementary School to undergo an upgrade to the HVAC system, lighting, and indoor air quality to reduce energy consumption and improve the learning environment for students.
River Trails School District 26 implemented an upgrade of the HVAC controls and retro-commissioned the building systems realizing a 27 percent annual energy savings and an $18,900 annual cost savings.
Vista Peak Preparatory Showcase Project
Aurora Public Schools selected Vista Peak to undergo a 14-month recommissioning of the HVAC system to maximize energy savings potential.
As part of an energy savings performance contract, Xenia Community Schools implemented an energy savings performance contract to upgrade Warner Middle School lighting and HVAC controls.
Los Angeles Unified School Disctirct (LAUSD) lacked a comprehensive framework for tracking and measuring energy consumption and engaging staff, students, and the community. The District developed a suite of programs focused on health and wellness, education, recognizing partnerships, optimizing performance, improving efficiency, and sharing best practices to help achieve these goals.
Aurora Public Schools created an incentive-based energy conservation program to improve energy efficiency and student engagement district-wide, and has achieved a 12% energy reduction as of 2017 from a 2013 baseline.

Other Resources

Fact Sheet

For more information on opportunities for K-12 school districts to participate in the Better Buildings Challenge take a look at this Overview, featuring top resources, solutions, and information on joining the partnership.


BBC K-12 Schools presentation at the 2017 Green Schools Conference & Expo on successful strategies to energy management.
This workshop-style session enabled partners and other interested stakeholders to sharpen their tools in the areas of building energy efficiency, renewable technologies, fleet conversions, and financial mechanisms.
This session covered funding options, design and road mapping, and communication strategies implemented by Better Buildings partner school districts.
This conversation explored alternative fuel school bus conversion and potential funding sources for school bus fleet conversions. Experts highlighted available programs and case studies from K-12 school districts around the nation. 
School facilities managers are looking for ways to streamline the implementation of clean energy technologies for high-performance schools that foster safe, healthy, and optimum learning environments. This presentation will include special presentations and group discussion for K-12 BBC Partners and other city and state stakeholders engaged in managing education campuses.
K-12 School District Peer Exchange 2016 Better Buildings Summit
K-12 district partners worked with DOE and their peers to review energy action plans, leverage peer expertise, and receive timely feedback.
State-based energy efficiency programs and legislation for school facilities enable K-12 school districts to accelerate energy efficiency upgrades and improve learning environments while saving on utility costs. Several states provide examples of state funding models that offer centralized support for financing school improvements, technical assistance, and project implementation, like the Tennessee Department of Education's Energy Efficient Schools Initiative (ESSI).
This forum helped participants address the challenges of operating 19th-century education facilities and bridging to the best practices of 21st-century smart education campuses. Starting with the basics of benchmarking buildings to advanced design and construction of zero energy schools, our presenters shared the latest methodologies, tools, and gains in creating optimal learning environments for students at all levels. This session was open to all higher education and K-12 facilities professionals as well as supporting administrators, architects, engineers, and other building professionals.


Six school districts from across the country are joining our Zero Energy Schools Accelerator. The districts will work together to develop zero energy designs that are cost-competitive with traditional construction methods in schools.


From affordable student housing to high-infill offices, a rapidly accelerating building trend is the proliferation of zero energy buildings. This webinar explored the financial, technological, and design process innovations that make these projects a reality.
This webinar covered energy efficiency and renewable energy resources and strategies available to small and rural schools and showcased K-12 school districts that are successfully proving that energy efficiency provides a worthwhile ROI.
This webinar reviewed comprehensive lighting guidance for K-12 schools along with an overview of the newest lighting technologies and strategies for classroom optimization and proficiency.
This training is geared towards practitioners considering ESPC for their energy efficiency projects and includes tools for making this decision and establishing the conditions for ESPC.
This webinar highlighted the National Laboratories and how your organization can work with them to enhance your energy efficiency.
In this webinar attendees learned how school districts are managing energy costs, maintaining healthy environments, and meeting STEM academic requirements.


Meet the Sector Committee Chair