Energy benchmarking for K-12 schools

Improve learning outcomes with energy benchmarking

Studies have shown that physical environment contributes to learning and productivity. Schools that are well lit, well ventilated, and in good repair create a healthy, comfortable learning and teaching environment, which leads to better performance and achievement.

In 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that a typical school district spends more on energy than on any other expense except salaries. Energy costs are higher than the total for computers and texbooks combined. Furthermore, one third of the energy is often wasted due to poorly functioning equipment, poor insulation and outdated technology.1 Energy benchmarking can help shrink the waste and reduce the costs, especially if students are actively engaged in monitoring and finding ways to reduce energy use. Benefits that can arise from regular energy benchmarking include the following:

  • Schools can use savings from improved energy performance to help pay for building improvements and other upgrades that enhance the learning environment.
  • Energy improvements can help free up resources so they can be redirected towards educational materials.
  • A more energy efficient structure will simultaneously help pay for those investments through cost savings over time.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of the school can serve as a key learning tool for students in terms of science, math, the environment, and social and fiscal responsibility.
  • By being more energy efficient, schools across Canada can help prevent greenhouse gas emissions and improve Canada's overall environment.

Collect the data you need to benchmark your school

The ENERGY STAR Score for K-12 Schools in Canada applies to a building or campus of buildings used as a school for Kindergarten through Grade 12. It does not apply to college or university classroom facilities and laboratories, or vocational, technical, trade schools or daycare facilities. These schools will still benefit from energy benchmarking and can obtain an energy use intensity (EUI) value to identify energy-saving priorities.

To obtain a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score, in addition to your school’s basic tombstone information, you need the following building data:

  • Gross floor area for each building
  • Gross floor area of gymnasium
  • Student seating capacity
  • Number of employees
  • Percent of each building that is cooled
  • Percent of each building that is heated
  • High school (yes/no)

Energy Use

  • Specific energy billing information for each building for all purchased energy. You will need to begin with at least 12 consecutive months for each energy source and update regularly with monthly usage data.

Note that the above information is not required to start benchmarking. You can start using the tool to track your energy performance no matter how much data you have. However, in order to obtain the 1-100 score or an energy use intensity value, you need the details above.

Learn more about benchmarking and energy efficiency for K-12 schools

Natural Resources Canada resources
Get your students on board
  • Incorporate sustainability and energy conservation into the instructional process
  • Educate students why protecting our environment matter to the next generation in terms of sustainability, global competitiveness, energy security, etc.
  • Promote the environmental impact of the energy benchmarking program to the students
  • Create opportunities and encourage students to get involved and to take leadership at school and at home by recycling, turning off lights, closing blinds, etc.
  • Implement yearly energy reduction challenges that will become the catalyst for creating positive change in schools and communities.

ENERGY STAR and K-12 Schools, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [PDF – 82 KB].