Planning and financing comprehensive energy upgrades for K-12 school districts is the subject of a free guide from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

Written by Merrian Goggio Borgeson and Mark Zimring, researchers in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, “Financing Energy Upgrades for K-12 School Districts” discusses public and private financing options, explains financial terms and mechanisms, and provides six case studies telling how school districts across the United States overcame obstacles, built consensus, and chose funding for energy-efficiency upgrades embraced by parents, taxpayers, and political leaders.

“The money spent on energy for schools ($6 billion annually in the United States) is their second-highest operating expenditure after personnel costs—more money than is spent on textbooks and computers combined,” Borgeson said. “Comprehensive energy-efficiency upgrades for schools bring them a lot of benefits. The biggest might be that lower energy bills allow them to spend more money on hiring teachers and buying supplies.”

Other benefits include modernized infrastructure, lower maintenance costs, and improved comfort, health, and safety.

“Most schools already have access to many of the financing tools they need to invest in these improvements,” Borgeson said. “We think that every school has the potential to become a high-performance school, one that has an improved student learning environment and saves energy, resources, and money. They just need to understand what the opportunities are and tap into those opportunities.”

The 46-page guide is available for download at