Schools Receive Recognition for Improvements in Energy Efficiency and Learning

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Best In Class: Solutions Strategist


As part of their 2024 recognition of efforts in education, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the following schools and districts who developed plans and made committed goals to advance initiatives that achieve sustained and long-term improvements of their school buildings. Recipients of Best-in-Class recognition for implementing projects in the Solutions Strategist category are listed below. These projects are well-planned, collect robust data that documents improvements in energy efficiency and learning, engaged students in learning opportunities, and are replicable.

Canajoharie Central School District, NY

Canajoharie School District logoSchools: 3, students: 900. Canajoharie Central School District, recognizing the importance of providing a healthy environment and serving the community as a disaster relief shelter, developed a comprehensive initiative to address energy, school environment, funding, education, and transportation. The district supported the hiring of an Energy Manager to lead a cross-functional District Energy Team, with the overarching goal of completing an Energy Master Plan. This team contributed to the identification and implementation of 12 low/no-cost measures that has allowed the district to stay within budget while absorbing a 7% utility cost increase. The district added an Energy Curriculum tailored to all student learning levels, and provides regular community updates regarding upcoming large-scale projects such as solar panels and electric school buses.

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Notable Achievement: Solutions Strategist


This category honors schools and districts who develop plans and make committed goals to advance district initiatives that achieve sustained and long-term improvements of their school buildings. These honored school districts demonstrated success in setting a broad work scope, clearly stating performance criteria, and describing improvements in energy efficiency and the learning environment.

Boise School District, ID

Boise School District logo

Schools: 51, students: 23,000. Boise School District is embracing a comprehensive sustainability initiative supported by their Clean Energy Board Resolution. One of the key components is the creation of student and staff Green Teams at every site, including district offices, facilities and operations, and special programs. Green Team Leads work closely with district staff through a central communication channel to implement activities such as “Powerdown Challenges”, which have saved the district over 730,000 kWh in the 2023-2024 school year alone. The Green Teams were made possible through buy-in from all parts of the district, and contribute to a broader culture shift toward environmental awareness and student empowerment. The Green Teams create a pipeline of lasting impact as students move through the school system while championing for sustainability.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools, IN

Hamilton Southeastern Schools logo

Schools: 22, students: 22,000. Hamilton Southeastern Schools (HSE) partnered with Ameresco through an ESPC to power three schools with solar energy as part of a larger goal to reduce their environmental impact. The district used this project as an opportunity to integrate solar into their K-12 curriculum, including hands-on learning via two solar wagons that have visited every school in the district. As a result of HSE’s success, a nearby district has utilized lessons learned to install solar on their own facilities, and HSE has partnered with a national nonprofit to host events related to solar education and policy. In 2023, Fishers High School and Hamilton Southeastern High School were named High Schools of the Year for the State of Indiana by the National Energy Education Development project for their projects on renewable energy.

Lansing Public School District, MI

Lansing School District logo

Schools: 28, students: 10,000. Lansing Public School District worked with district and community stakeholders and larger initiatives like Michigan Clean Cities to develop their comprehensive sustainability plan. As a result of this work, the district design specifications have been updated to require renewable energy sources and energy efficiency measures. One key measure includes 10 solar installations, which is expected to save nearly half a million dollars in the first full year of operation alone. Student involvement has been an integral part of the work, and will continue through an intern program and the launch of an energy careers pathway program.

Portland Public Schools, OR

Portland Public Schools logo

Schools: 86, students: 45,000. In March 2023, Portland Public Schools initiated a pioneering approach to achieve their goal of net zero emissions by 2040. The district prioritized a variety of unique stakeholder engagement approaches, such as in-person and virtual events, surveys, and classroom visits, and worked to engage school communities at the neighborhood-scale by creating school clusters to include in each session. By engaging participants through dot-polling, flyers that summarize every school’s energy and emissions, and comparative graphics, the district has gathered invaluable insights into stakeholder opinions that will guide the development of the decarbonization roadmap moving forward.

Francis P. Koster Ed.D.

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