Finding Money to Pay for Green Schools

By Margo Appel

Green schools save money—we know that. Measures to make schools more energy efficient can save thousands of dollars a year in operating costs.

Saving money always has been important to school leaders, but in these trying economic times, it’s paramount. However, green schools sometimes can be a hard sell to your community, particularly if they are more expensive to build or renovate than traditional schools.

Fortunately, thanks to better technologies and design practices, it now is possible to build high-performance schools at virtually no additional cost compared to traditionally constructed schools. Even in cases where there is an incremental cost, districts generally recoup their expenses on energy-efficient projects in an average of five to eight years. Moreover, you will continue saving money for the remainder of the building’s life cycle.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergySmart Schools Program’s goal is to provide you with the information you need to make the energy efficiency of new schools 50 percent better than current energy codes and to improve existing schools by 30 percent.

Finding ways to pay for these new buildings and renovations need not be complicated. If your state allows, you may use federal stimulus money for new building or for renovation. If not, here are some avenues to consider:

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