WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is challenging school administrators and building managers to improve energy efficiency throughout their facilities by taking the Energy Star Challenge. According to EPA, schools that accept the challenge will join those across the country that are already using 30 percent less energy with help from Energy Star.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said, “Taking the Energy Star Challenge will help participating districts cut down on their electricity bills. Money they would have spent on energy can go back into the classroom, where it really belongs.”

EPA said 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. 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.

Nearly 2,000 schools have earned EPA’s Energy Star label, said the agency, including some in Oregon’s Gresham-Barlow School District that cut energy use by 48 percent. In one year, the district saved more than $1.3 million in utility costs, the equivalent of 24 full-time teachers’ salaries, said EPA. Council Rock, a school district in Pennsylvania, has reduced its energy use by 40 percent since 2005, mostly through improved operations and maintenance of building systems. In a three-year period, EPA said, the district saved more than $4.7 million.

EPA is also asking parents, teachers, and students to work together to save energy at home and at school. To engage youth and families in learning about changes they can make in their homes and schools to save energy, Energy Star has teamed with Parent Teacher Organization (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.

For more information on the Energy Star Challenge, visit http://energystar.gov/challenge.

Publication date:09/21/2009