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U.S. Department of Energy Recognizes Boise School District for Achieving 50001 Ready at Nine Schools

Capital High SchoolThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recognizes the Boise School District for achieving DOE 50001 Ready at nine of its facilities in 2023, including three high schools and six junior high schools, with more on the horizon.

The Boise School District participated in a cohort of Idaho school districts pursuing Continuous Energy Improvement as a sustainability model. The Strategic Energy Group (SEG), under the auspices of Idaho Power, coached the cohort on how to monitor energy use and manage energy use within the schools. Boise High School was the first school in the district to achieve 50001 Ready in April 2019 and was able to re-attest in October 2020. By January 2021, seven more buildings, including five junior high schools and two high schools had achieved 50001 Ready. That same year, the Boise School District adopted a clean energy resolution that gave the district authorization and encouragement to integrate sustainability into its strategic plan, as well as budget for a clean energy future.

Between January 2017 and May 2021, the buildings participating in Boise School District’s Continuous Energy Improvement Program reduced their energy usage by 11.73%. By 2023, the district had saved over 9 million kilowatt hours of energy, translating to $560,000 of savings. Participating in 50001 Ready allowed them to plan each step in their efficiency improvement process and see the energy savings firsthand.

Replacing pneumatic HVAC control systems with direct digital controls made a huge difference in the district’s efficiency. The district can now shut down each school’s HVAC system remotely at 7 pm each night, so staff don’t need to remember to do so. Schools also removed two lamps from each hallway lighting installation, which reduced their electrical usage while still providing adequate lighting. For a recent holiday break, the district shut down HVAC systems and involved staff and students in unplugging and powering down, saving 900,000 kilowatts of electricity over five weeks.  

Each school in the Boise School District has a student Green Team that proposes project ideas on how to make their sites more sustainable. Any student can bring ideas to their school’s Green Team members (“Green Ambassadors”), who then engage the Green Team Lead to advocate for the suggested solutions (such as LED lighting, for example). Green Team project selection is based on the students’ excitement, the district’s capacity, and greenhouse gas impact.

The district has detailed electrical usage data for its schools that participate in the Idaho Power Cohort. Staff found it helpful to visualize the schools’ energy use through a dashboard called Asset Planner, which includes monthly utility data (for electricity, natural gas, and water) for all of the district’s facilities. They are further working on a version that they can provide to school teams. With such tools at their disposal, student volunteers can gain a clearer idea of how to best direct their efforts.

DOE’s 50001 Ready program, managed by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO), provides a self-paced, no-cost way for organizations to build a culture of structured energy improvement that leads to deeper and more sustained energy savings.

Learn more about 50001 Ready implementation and student contributions to energy management at Boise School District.