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EPA Challenges American school districts to save energy and money with ENERGY STAR

Release Date: 09/23/2009
Contact Information: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

(Boston, Mass.--September 23, 2009) This back to school season, EPA is challenging school administrators and building managers to improve energy efficiency throughout their facilities. As many school districts across the country face budget cuts, some are slashing their utility bills with help from ENERGY STAR. School districts can answer EPA’s call-to-action by taking the ENERGY STAR Challenge, a pledge to improve the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings. They will be following the lead of more than 500 school districts, some of which have reduced their energy use by 40 percent or more. Schools that take the ENERGY STAR Challenge can use energy tracking tools, technical guidance, case studies, and other ENERGY STAR tools and resources to help them improve their energy efficiency.

The annual energy bill to operate America’s primary and secondary schools totals nearly $8 billion — more than is spent on textbooks and computers combined. ENERGY STAR helps bring those bills down. Nearly 2,000 schools nationwide have earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR label for superior energy efficiency, and on average, these schools use 30 percent less energy than typical schools.

In New England, higher-than-average energy costs make efficiency even more important. To support New England schools, EPA-New England offers hands-on training for ENERGY STAR benchmarking tools and technical assistance through the Community Energy Challenge, which is open to all communities and schools in the region. Currently, there are 151 communities in the challenge. In the last 9 months, we have seen more than 700 school buildings in New England using the benchmarking tools for the first time, and by measuring their energy use this way, they are better able to manage their energy consumption. Additionally, there are 57 schools in New England that have earned the ENERGY STAR label.

The Cranston Public School system in RI has saved over $2 million dollars in energy costs since the School Committee implemented energy guidelines in 2006. Karen Verrengia, Cranston Public Schools energy manager, credits all the technicians, custodial staff, faculty and students with taking energy efficiency seriously and helping the schools to improve. Just in the past year, four elementary schools have earned the ENERGY STAR label: the Daniel Waterman, Stone Hill, Chester W. Barrows and Edgewood Highland schools. Cranston's focus has been primarily on energy management, education and behavior change. The four newly labeled Cranston elementary schools achieved their rating without benefit of retrofits, a success story that can inspire other schools struggling with budget cuts and increased energy costs to find ways without a budget to reduce their energy use.

In NH, the Timberlane Regional School District in the Plaistow area has already earned an ENERGY STAR label for a three-building cluster that shares one heating system. Three other buildings have qualified for the label and are awaiting final EPA approval. A key to their success is that they have both an electrician and an HVAC specialist on staff, which allows the school district to attend to maintenance and upgrade work immediately, and to save money in the long run on contractual costs.

“New England school districts have shown tremendous commitment and effort in making their buildings more energy efficient. Using the ENERGY STAR benchmarking tool helps them to measure their success” said Ira Leighton, Acting Regional Administrator for EPA-New England. “This provides multiple benefits – energy costs come down, greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change are reduced, and schools can get national recognition with an ENERGY STAR label when they score 75 or higher with the benchmarking tool.”

To engage youth and families in learning about changes they can make in their homes and schools to save energy and protect the environment, ENERGY STAR has teamed with PTO Today, a national organization dedicated to supporting family involvement in education. Together with ENERGY STAR, PTO Today offers “Go Green Night” activities to the nation’s parent-teacher organizations, to help families learn about saving energy together.

To sign your school up for the ENERGY STAR Challenge, visit
To see a map of ENERGY STAR qualified schools near you, visit