May 21, 2012 in Environmental News

Three U.S. Public High Schools Win Sustainable Energy Award

WASHINGTON – May 21, 2012 – The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) today announced the three winning high schools for the Sustainable Energy Award, sponsored by Samsung:

Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, Erie, Pa.

Boston Latin School, Boston, Mass.

Secondary Academy for Success, Bothell, Wash.

Selected by a panel of judges following a nationwide search, the schools demonstrated a school-wide effort to achieve energy savings through the creative and innovative use of technology. Each school will receive $10,000 to further their initiatives.

“The schools serve as examples for others in the nation seeking to become more sustainable, while engaging students in learning about their environment,” said Diane Wood, President of NEEF. “We congratulate everyone involved at the winning schools, including students, teachers, staff, parents and other members of the school communities, for their innovative approaches and solutions to energy-efficiency.”

“These winning schools demonstrate the enthusiasm and creativity students bring to sustainability,” said David Steel, Executive Vice President of Strategy of Samsung Electronics North America. “With 2012 marking ENERGY STAR’s 20th anniversary, it’s especially fitting that we celebrate these schools that are not only helping build student interest and aptitude in sustainability, but also building on ENERGY STAR’s important work in encouraging people to be energy conscious.”

The nation’s 17,450 K-12 school districts spend more than $6 billion annually on energy—more than is spent on computers and textbooks combined—according to the ENERGY STAR energy-efficiency program of the U.S. EPA and Department of Energy. Moreover, as much as 30 percent of a school district’s total energy could be used more efficiently.

Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, Erie, Pa.
In 2007, the high school’s AP Environmental Science class wanted to make a positive impact by initiating an energy audit. The students benchmarked the school on and made recommendations to the faculty, staff and students to take advantage of natural daylight. After one year, the school saved $10,945 and more than 180,000 kWh compared to the average energy data for the previous three years.

During the past 5 years, the school reduced its electrical and natural gas consumption through actions such as opening blinds, turning off lights, installing motion detectors and cleaning air handling filters. As a result of its conservation successes, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection awarded the Erie City School District a grant to install a 10.4 KW solar array on the roof of the Academy.

Boston Latin School, Boston, Mass.
In 2008, a school environmental group conducted an energy audit of the school with help from the local utility NSTAR. Improving on the score of 59 out of 100 meant a strong energy efficiency initiative. The school turned off the lights in vending machines after school, lowered the hot water temperature, and replaced hundreds of light bulbs in the auditorium ceiling with more energy-efficient bulbs. With efforts underway, the school earned the enthusiastic support of the school community.

The school has had two fundraisers that generated more than $12,000 to support their initiative. With help from the Facilities Department of the Boston Public Schools, the school implemented a $75,000 lighting retrofit that saves 200,000 kWh and $33,000 a year. The school also installed a 28-panel PV array on its roof through a partnership with the City of Boston’s energy department and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. The system displays real-time data on electricity generated, and the school is putting this data online for study by other students.

Secondary Academy for Success, Bothell, Wash.
In 2010, the Academy moved from their old historic building to a new one that incorporated state-of-the art technology and LEED green building design. The school took the Cool Schools Challenge, a program of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency that motivates students, teachers and school districts to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Twenty classrooms and three offices reduced their carbon footprint by 24,000 lbs of CO2. The campus uses technology through Direct Digital Controls for heating and cooling, lighting and day lighting systems, demand ventilation controls, metering for water, gas and electric, solar and wind renewable system performance, a weather station and high-level performance dashboards.

The school has also incorporated the study of these campus features, their “stationary lab,” into their curriculum. Students have led an effort to build a “mobile lab” this year by retrofitting a standard cargo mobile trailer. The project will be a mobile renewable energy kiosk for students to learn and teach others about sustainability. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Education selected the Academy as one of the 78 schools in 29 states and the District of Columbia for the Green Ribbon Schools ( recognition.

Learn more about the Sustainable Energy Award and find resources on school energy efficiency at

About the National Environmental Education Foundation
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) provides knowledge to trusted professionals who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve everyday environmental problems. Together, we generate lasting positive change.

NEEF partners with professionals in health, education, media, business and public land management to promote daily actions for helping people protect and enjoy the environment. Through our primary programs—Classroom Earth, National Public Lands Day, National Environmental Education Week, Business and Environment, Earth Gauge and Health & Environment—we offer Americans knowledge to live by. To learn more, visit or follow NEEF via Facebook at, or via Twitter @neefusa.