To help curb the billions of dollars in annual energy-related costs by K-12 schools, the U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergySmart Schools program recently launched a new web tool to help schools develop an energy-saving operations and maintenance plan that aids the environment and improves the educational system by saving money.
The EnergySmart Schools program, along with the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) and SchoolDude.com, have developed the Operating and Maintaining EnergySmart Schools Web-Based Training tool, which trains school facility management staff to make energy efficient and cost-effective operating and management plans, as well as ways to successfully implement and maintain these plans to reap the benefits.
The online multimedia program was officially launched on Tuesday, May 25 during a 75-minute online seminar or “webinar.”
“The online training tool is intended to be a live or living interactive extension of the ‘Guide to Operating and Maintaining EnergySmart Schools,’ ” said Kristyn Ivey, an associate of Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consulting firm supporting the EnergySmart Schools program. “It is targeted toward a mixed audience of facility management as well as school decision makers.”
One of the EnergySmart Schools program’s main objectives is to find resources and tools to solve the existing realities facing K-12 schools, including aging facilities and rising energy costs.
“The program’s goals are to promote 30 percent improved efficiency in existing buildings and 50 percent in new construction and renovations over current standards,” said Margo Appel, program manager of the DOE’s EnergySmart Schools Building Technologies program.
The online tool features a virtual agent that guides users through four modules that supplies energy saving strategies and helps the user develop and implement an energy management plan.
For example, the ‘Technical Consideration’ module gives a bird’s-eye-view of an interactive, explorative virtual high-performance school. Users can click on certain areas, such as a classroom, swimming pool and kitchen, to find out more detailed information on specific efficiency strategies pertaining to those areas.
A ‘knowledge check’ quiz at the end of each module helps users assess what they have learned to help prepare them for the exam that occurs at the end of the program.
Other features include an on-hand glossary for related terms and embedded videos and links providing opinions, tips and more strategies from experts.
Upon successful completion of the web-training, users receive a certificate of completion that qualifies registered members of the Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) and/or the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for 1.5 Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) continuing education unit credits.
To best integrate the web tool within the school system, “webinar” panelists Jason Turner, energy coordinator for Onsite Energy Services, and Sue Pierce, director of facility planning and energy for the Washington Elementary School District in Arizona, discussed creating and achieving the best energy-saving O&M practices.
Ultimately, the “webinar” discussion of the training tool centered on the idea that energy-wasting practices take away funding that should go toward supporting the main purpose of schools: Education.
“The more energy that we use, there is no value added to our educational process,” said Roger Young, principal of Roger Young and Associates and the O&M best practices panel discussion facilitator. “Every dollar that we spend on energy, every dollar more we spend of what we need to do, it impacts teaching and learning because it takes away from our core mission of teaching and learning.”
The Department of Energy’s EnergySmart Schools online training tool features four modules that guide users to develop a sustainable, energy-saving management plan.
For additional resources and information, and for an archive of the Tuesday, May 25th “webinar,” visit: