Is it possible to build and operate school buildings that create dynamic teaching spaces for kids, conserve energy and cost less?
A new study from CSU found that Poudre School District in Fort Collins did just that.
Poudre School District has adopted a complete, top-to-bottom approach to sustainability and is now saving roughly more than $1 million per year.
Schools across the nation face serious budget deficits, and in most public schools, energy costs are the second largest expense after employee salaries. Efforts to reduce these costs often are focused on building standards and new technologies. Jennifer Cross, assistant professor of sociology at CSU, led a research team that looked beyond these traditional ideas to determine how schools can change their energy use habits through cultural change within the organization.
Three key factors
Researchers ultimately identified three main factors that allowed the district to develop a conservation-oriented culture:
- Organizational change
- Appropriate framing
- Network collaboration
Since 2000, Poudre School District (PSD) has constructed six new energy efficient schools – Zach, Bacon, Fossil Ridge, Kinard, Rice and Bethke – one office building, and has made significant improvements to the efficiency of existing buildings. The district has received more than 30 awards recognizing its commitment to sustainability and energy conservation in buildings. On average, PSD spends 37 percent fewer dollars per year on energy expenses than other Colorado school districts.
This is a significant cost savings that is truly the result of the district’s firm commitment to sustainability. The district is literally using less energy and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars less than other districts. When budgets are tight as they are, other school districts need to pay attention to how PSD was able to accomplish this. In fact, what happened in Poudre School District was inspired by budgets being a problem a decade ago.
Read more here.
Written by Dr. Jeni Cross, assistant professor of Sociology, Colorado State University