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Energy Management/Education Program

Energy Efficient Schools Council Announces $4,109,428 Available For Energy Management/Education Proposals

For the past three years, the Energy Efficient Schools Council (“Council”) created by the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative (EESI) Act of 2008 has provided over $87 million in grants and loans to public K-12 school districts for energy efficiency projects.  Also included in this act was the purpose for the Council to establish and support ongoing energy management in K-12 schools. The Council has allocated $4,109,428 to public K-12 school districts to be used for energy management and energy management education. This funding will be allocated based on the most recent average daily membership by school district, and is attached.  The goal of energy management is to reduce energy waste and conserve costs while providing a safe and comfortable learning environment.

To participate in this funding allocation, districts will submit an EESI Application (attached) along with a proposal detailing energy management education and/or energy management activities.  Applications and proposals can be submitted through email, fax, or mail. Proposals will be reviewed by the Council’s Technical Advisory Committee (“TAC”).   TAC members may contact the “Technical Contact” listed on the application with questions about the proposal.

Districts will be notified of approved proposals by the EESI with instructions on how to be reimbursed for costs incurred implementing the approved proposal.  This reimbursement process would be similar to the previous incentive grant programs administered by the EESI.

Although the Council is providing the following list of potential proposals as a guide, creative proposals, not listed are welcome.  This funding is not intended for the capital equipment replacements, but is intended to either establish or support an ongoing energy management program.

Components of the proposal should include:

          • An energy management policy with supporting action plan
          • Establish district energy management advocate(s)
          • Plan for tracking and reporting energy savings
          • Feedback loop for how energy savings can be institutionalized
          • Return on investment

Energy Management Policy & Action Plan
A successful ongoing energy management program requires strong support from the school board.  Formalization of this commitment to make energy management a district priority would be the adoption of a policy, with a supporting action plan to be updated regularly.  A good policy would:

          • Acknowledge the rising utility costs of the district and the necessity for energy cost controls
          • Set realistic and attainable goals and timelines for accomplishing these goals
          • Apply to the entire district and require a commitment from all staff and students
          • Designate an energy manager that would communicate results to the superintendent and board
          • Require the preparation of an energy management plan for board approval that will keep the program visible, relevant and responsive
          • Allot an energy management budget that is directly linked to expected savings

The policy must recognize that energy management is something everyone in the district, including staff and students, must be committed to accomplishing. An energy committee composed of representatives from various groups (administration, operations, maintenance, custodial, teachers, students, community groups, etc) is frequently set up to enlist broad-based support for the program, guide the decision-making process, and develop an action plan. 

An action plan should establish responsibilities throughout the district to integrate good energy management practices. Unlike the energy policy, the action plan is regularly updated, most often on an annual basis, to reflect recent achievements, changes in performance, and shifting priorities.  Because the idea is to save money and energy, whenever money is spent there should be a clear cost-benefit analysis that shows the expected return on the investment.

Energy Management Advocate(s)
The level of energy management expertise needed in each district will vary, depending on the size and organizational complexity of the district and the disposition of the board. Someone within the district should be designated as the advocate for energy management. This person should understand the basic concepts of energy-using systems and energy accounting. Even more importantly, this person must be a strong communicator with excellent organizational skills.  One or more individuals in the school district may need energy management training.  Although there are many free courses available on the internet, there are certain training courses that require a fee.  Courses requiring a fee may also provide a certification, such as the Certified Energy Manager.  Some districts or combination of districts may consider hiring an energy management firm to design and establish an energy management and accountability program.

Energy Savings Tracking & Reporting
Program results are expected to be quantified in actual dollars saved as well as cost avoidance over the base year. This means that the district will need to establish a tracking system for base-year costs and usage rates, so accurate savings estimates can be made. Collection and utilization of energy use data is a feedback mechanism for improved energy efficient operation of systems, facility occupant behavior, etc.  Purchase and installation of sub-meters, smart meters, purchase of software, contract services, etc. may be included in proposals.  EESI will offer free assistance to establish an Energy Star Portfolio Manager account for districts to make reporting easier.

Energy Savings Feedback
Proposals should identify how the utilization of information (measurement and verification) identifies operational issues, allocates financial resources, evaluates modifications, prioritizes maintenance, etc.  Proposals may include utilization of advanced facility operational tools such as remote/automated building controls, etc.

Districts with smaller student populations, and fewer facilities, may want to pool the available resources with other districts to develop joint proposals of two or more districts.  As examples, districts in Kentucky have jointly hired a single energy manager and five districts in upper East Tennessee submitted a joint application for a Green Schools Fellow grant to provide a dedicated expert to develop conservation policies, recommend conservation actions, etc.

Several districts have established ongoing energy management programs where the energy savings realized more than pays for the cost of the program activities.  Some districts have entered into performance contracts with energy service companies and paid for capital equipment upgrades through energy savings. Ongoing energy management services are provided in these cases through the life of the contract. Other districts have contracted for utility monitoring and building automated control services.

The TAC will be looking for the expected return from the investment of EESI grant funds requested in the proposals.  The commitment, in terms of policy, finance, personnel, etc., will be evaluated to determine an expected success in achieving a goal for an ongoing energy management program.  As an example, if there is a request to provide funding for an energy manager position (whether the position will be a district employee or a third party service), the expected job plan will be evaluated and the experience and training of the position will be matched with the duties to be performed to meet established energy savings goals, developed action plans, etc.
Proposals may include a strategy for ongoing commissioning of existing facilities to minimize energy waste and optimize safety, health and comfort.  This strategy addresses such energy-wasting deficiencies such as simultaneous heating and cooling, malfunctioning or mis-calibrated energy management controls, etc. that impact both occupants and finances.  This type of strategy provides the information needed to identify where the issues are, how to best address the issue, and the financial impact of how the issues affect building performance and the total cost of ownership.

Ongoing energy management programs may be eligible to receive additional financial support from EESI in subsequent years.   Whether additional financial support will be in the form of grants or loans has not yet been determined.  A successful energy management program can generate savings through the elimination of energy waste that exceeds the cost of implementation. 

You may email Holly Russ, EESI Program Administrator, ( or Paul Cross, Executive Director, ( with comments or questions.  The telephone number for EESI is (615) 532-8273 and the fax number is (615)532-5942.