How can existing schools significantly reduce their energy use? Using a case study methodology, we compare two public high schools from the same school district, one that has achieved moderate energy savings and another that has reduced its electricity use by 50% over several years. The greater success at one school is the result of integrated efforts at all levels within the organization, from district administrators to individual students. Success is based on structural changes, individual behavioral change, and, most important, the weaving of both into a cohesive organizational culture emphasizing conservation.

This case study examines how energy conservation efforts in one public high school contributed to both sustainability education and the adoption of sustainable behavior within educational and organizational practice. Individual role models, school facilities, school governance and school culture together support both conservation and environmental education, specifically through the application of principles from behavior theory, including modeling commitments, values, expectations, and behaviors. In addition, role models with the traits of charismatic leaders can be especially instrumental. In this school, communication is the thread connecting the multiple aspects of modeling, helping to create the synergistic relationship between conservation efforts and environmental education. This study demonstrates that conservation efforts, when modeled successfully in a public school setting, can simultaneously and synergistically meet the goals of conservation and sustainability education.

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