Not Too Cool for School: Demystifying Costs and Accelerating Pathways for Healthy, All-Electric Schools

Room: D139-140

Audience: Architects, Engineers, Specialized Consultants, Facilities Personnel, Educators, School Administrators, Educational Policymakers, Community Stakeholders

Call to Action: 

  1. Implement the decarbonization roadmap approach to plan for decarbonization projects.
  2. Use the interactive upfront cost estimation tool to calculate upfront cost estimates by equipment type and end use.
  3. Select the metrics that are most important to their district when considering equipment electrification and evaluate costing tradeoffs.

Abstract: America’s K-12 schools currently produce emissions equivalent to 18 coal-fired power plants. Upgrading existing buildings and electrifying building systems is a key strategy to decrease the emissions contribution of the sector, especially as many school buildings suffer from ageing infrastructure, deferred maintenance, indoor air quality and occupant comfort issues. Healthy and efficient school infrastructure is more important than ever as hazards like wildfire smoke, heat waves, and airborne diseases increase in frequency and severity. However, schools are often severely limited by capital budgets, so understanding the cost ranges and scope implications of electrification upgrades is crucial to be able to incorporate into project plans, budgets, and possible school bonds. The Building Electrification Technology Roadmap (BETR) for Schools was completed to arm school decision-makers with the information they need to make strategic decisions related to system and equipment upgrades in their buildings. For common lifecycle events like an emergency replacement, planned upgrades and maintenance, deep retrofits, and facility additions, the study highlights installation challenges, maintenance difficulty, indoor air quality and greenhouse gas emission impacts. The study also quantifies the upfront and operational costs associated with the replacement technology, accounting for both material and labor costs as well as unique costs like panel and wiring upgrades. To illustrate tradeoffs when considering electrification retrofits, several example scenarios are provided to “spotlight” specific building types, existing systems, and life cycle events. While every project is unique, the BETR for Schools guide offers a common framework for approaching and evaluating electrification opportunities in school buildings. This session will additionally touch on funding mechanisms and approaches to help district stack funding opportunities to achieve their electrification goals. The information in this session is meant to empower and inform decision makers as they consider their roadmap to decarbonization of their buildings and portfolios.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about building systems that are tailored for K-12 schools to reduce carbon emissions and improve the health, wellness, and resilience of school buildings and the broader community.
  2. Understand the roadmap steps and decision-making tools to electrify their school buildings.
  3. Quantify the potential upfront cost magnitude of electrification in their school buildings.
  4. Understand the funding opportunities available and how to creatively stack them to achieve electrification goals.
Reilly Loveland
Reilly Loveland
Associate Director, New Buildings Institute

Reilly is an Associate Director at New Buildings Institute (NBI), a national non-profit organization dedicated to decarbonizing buildings. At NBI, Reilly focuses on energy efficiency in schools, which includes work developing educational opportunities and resources for a better understanding of healthy, energy efficient, carbon neutral schools. The program’s focus is on drastic energy and carbon reduction in K-12 schools to ensure optimal spaces for students and staff to work, learn, and play. Reilly has received several awards including USGBC Women in Green, USGBC Center for Green School’s Ambassador Award, and the NEEA Rising Star Award for her work advocating for sustainable schools.

Rhys Davis
Rhys Davis
Technical Consultant, Resource Refocus LLC

Before joining Resource Refocus, Rhys worked as a graduate researcher for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) Building Electrification & Energy Efficiency R&D team. Rhys earned his Master of Science in Energy Systems from the University of California, Davis, and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Ohio State University, where he focused on power plant water consumption and commercial building energy efficiency consulting.

Andrea Swiatocha, AIA, LEED AP
Andrea Swiatocha, AIA, LEED AP
Schools & Nonprofits Program, State and Community Energy Program, U.S. DOE

Andrea is on the Schools and Non-profits Program within the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) State and Community Energy Program (SCEP) Office. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) schools provision set aside $500 million to transform decaying public school infrastructure into healthier, more energy-efficient learning environments. Andrea is supporting the administration of the $500 million grant program to schools for high-impact energy efficiency and health improvements as well as innovative energy technology packages.

Mischa Egolf
Mischa Egolf
Technical Associate, New Buildings Institute

Mischa is a Technical Associate at New Buildings Institute (NBI) and part of NBI’s Building Innovation team. She applies her engineering background to conduct data analysis, create data visualizations, and complete technical research for NBI projects and Initiatives. Through building science expertise, Mischa quantifies the energy, cost, and carbon impacts of energy efficiency and decarbonization measures in both the residential and commercial sector.

Core Competency

Design of Educational Facilities
Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232


October 16-19, 2024


+1 480.391.0840