U.S. Department of Energy Awards Schools that Improve Learning Through Environmental Health

Data Detective - Best in Class logo

Best In Class: Data Detective


This announcement honors schools and districts who, in 2023 and 2024, demonstrate best practices to assess, benchmark, and utilize building data to prioritize school improvements. Recipients of Best-in-Class recognition for implementing projects in the Data Detective 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.

Porterville Unified School District, CA

Porterville Unified school district logoSchools: 22, students: 14,000. Porterville Unified School District partnered with Climate Action Pathways for Schools (CAPS) to develop an Energy & Sustainability Program in 2019. The Program trained high school students as interns, who collected data from 21 school sites, including utility bills and solar production, and conducted site visits to record HVAC system data. The data formed the baseline EUI, and is pivotal to a $5.2M grant that the district received to implement energy savings measures. Porterville Unified School District provides public education for the Tule River Indian Tribe. The funded project will help improve the school environment for all students.

Seattle Public Schools, WA

Seattle public schools logoSchools: 109, students: 51,000. Seattle Public Schools used ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to evaluate their readiness to meet their state’s Clean Building Performance Standard’s target EUI. Facility staff carefully considered occupancy schedule, construction year, and complexity from multi-use building types, in comparison with the target EUI for each of their 100+ campuses. The assessment underlined the need for more rapid electrification and infrastructure investment planning, enabling Seattle Public Schools to lay out a pathway to be fossil-fuel free by 2040 in alignment with Seattle’s school board resolution.



Notable Achievement - Data Detective logo

Notable Achievement: Data Detective


This category honors schools and districts who demonstrate best practices to assess, benchmark, and utilize building data to prioritize school improvements. 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 logoSchools: 51, students: 23,000. Boise School District conducted a comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions inventory for their 51 schools, covering scope 1, 2 and a select set of scope 3 emissions. This building-to-building and district-wide assessment provides a baseline for the district to plan for future sustainability investments and has helped the district evaluate the emissions impact of its design specifications. The district also utilized data visualizations and tools, such as hourly electricity heat maps and performance tracking models, to support their ongoing energy and emissions management efforts.

IDEA Public Schools, TX

IDEA public schools logoSchools: 143, students: 80,000. IDEA Public Schools used ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark three schools and the headquarters building. A number of improvements were made as a result of building assessments, including adjustments to building operations that reduce energy use and improve indoor air quality. IDEA Public Schools identified and repaired faulty equipment at the headquarters building to improve solar production. All four sites obtained ENERGY STAR Building Certification, and the district intends to pursue Certification of 25 additional sites, to build on the positive outcomes of this work.

Francis P. Koster Ed.D.

Proven local solutions to national problems.


Francis P. Koster, Ed. D.

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Kannapolis, NC 28081


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