Schools Project Planning Resources



Students of all ages and staff of all levels are working across the state to implement clean and efficient energy projects at their schools and campuses. School-based projects have unique opportunities to create projects that both fill clean energy needs and provide educational opportunities for students.

This page starts out by showing you the most recent content from across the CERTs website. Jump to detailed resources.

Schools Blog Posts

David and Lissa facilitate conversation after the film screening and presentations
Lissa Pawlisch
Mon, 12/03/2018 - 4:43pm
On November 27, over 140 people from the Red River Valley attended a film screening of the new documentary, The Power of Minnesota, that took take place at the Historic Fargo Theatre. Event highlights included a social with appetizers, presentations...
Local government staff join tour of energy efficiency improvements at Mankato State University
Chris Meyer
Tue, 11/20/2018 - 2:43pm
On Thursday, November 1st, Southeast Clean Energy Resource Teams (SE CERT) hosted a “Capturing Savings from Public Building Energy Efficiency: Benchmarking through Financing – Getting your Project Done” session at the Minnesota State University,...
Bill Sanford at Lakeland PBS leading a tour. Photo by Sarah Gazelka
Joel Anastasio
Thu, 10/18/2018 - 4:43pm
Back to back clean energy events at Lakeland PBS on Thursday October 11th featured a tour of solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency projects, a screening of a new MN clean energy documentary, and local speakers.   Geeking out: Touring...

Schools Case Studies

The Headwaters Regional Development Commission (HRDC) recently used grant funding from CERTs to conduct a community survey in Beltrami County, Minnesota in order to identify and understand the community’s renewable energy and energy efficiency financing needs. HRDC partnered with the Sustainability Office at Bemidji State University for the project and...
All of us, at some point in life, were stuck indoors on a beautiful day, and wished we could be outside. As kids, we’ve daydreamed about our teacher conducting class outside. As adults, we’ve joked with a co-worker about moving a desk outside on a nice afternoon, longing to escape the confines of a stuffy, drab office.
Everyone would like to save money on utility bills, and most people want to conserve our natural resources, right? Well, in Southwest Minnesota, what initially started as an effort to raise awareness among tenants, management, and community members about the importance of the responsible use of natural resources such as energy and water turned out to...
Schools Project Planning

Looking for technology resources?

Explore technology resources
If you’re looking to learn more about a specific technology, like energy efficiency, solar, or wind, we have what you’re looking for. Our technology resources include everything from basic introductions and frequently asked questions to CERTs case studies to recent reports and organizations that can help you go deeper. Learn more.

CERTs Supported Projects

See CERTs-supported projects
CERTs awards Seed Grants to community groups for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. See projects or learn more about grants.

Detailed Resources for Schools

Basics & First Steps

Frequently Asked QuestionsCERTs
Energy Efficiency & Conservation
Energy Efficiency in Schools
Energy Production at Schools
School Transportation Issues

Greening Your School: First StepsCERTs
Trying to figure out how to start up a project at your school? We can help! Click above and read on to learn more.

Renewable Energy Task List for SchoolsCERTs
This task list includes 14 important steps schools can take as they brainstorm energy projects.

Simple Steps for SchoolsChoose Environmental Excellence
This list of steps is broad—recognizing that what makes sense for one school may not be practical for another—and is a great start for your administrators, building managers, teachers, and students to begin to think about how your school can work toward saving energy and improving the environment.

15 Questions You Can Ask to Improve Building EfficiencyBy Rin Porter, Central CERT

Clean Energy ResourcesUnion of Concerned Scientists
This website has educational materials that include fact sheets, reports, and teacher’s guides, among others, across the spectrum of clean energy technologies and applications.

The Green SquadNational Resources Defense Council
Green Squad is an interactive Web-based tool for teaching kids (grades 5-8) about environmental health in schools.

Organizations & Programs

Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon
Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon was a CERTs-led initiative helping schools save money and reduce their carbon footprints. It was a three-year initiative to give 100 Minnesota public high schools, colleges, and universities guidance, collaboration tools, technical assistance, and mini-grants to make their schools more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Learn more at

Youth Energy Summit (YES!)
YES! is a team-oriented youth program that uses hands-on, experiential learning and energy action projects to address energy opportunities and issues in rural Minnesota communities. Empowered youth inspiring widespread adoption of renewable energy technology and energy conservation practices which contribute to the environmental and economic health of rural Minnesota communities.

Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN)
YEA! MN is a youth run coalition of Minnesota High Schools with the common goal of improving the environment through education and action. YEA! MN connects, engages, and empowers youth to create clean, just, and sustainable communities.

Minnesota Department of Education directory
This directory provides lists of all school districts and schools (public and private) in a variety of formats, even with the names of superintendents—you name it, it’s there.

Schools for Energy Efficiency® (SEE)
This program provides schools with the tools, resources and expertise necessary to reduce their overall energy use and improve energy efficiency of their facilities while integrating energy education into the classroom.

Healthy and Sustainable SchoolsState of Minnesota
With a goal of helping Minnesota K-12 schools reduce operating costs, reduce environmental impacts and promote a healthy indoor/outdoor environment for students, the MPCA has produced a free resource that provides a 65-page guide to the many physical & operational aspects of a school that can be changed; as well as a 60-page assessment tool for walking through school buildings and documenting what needs to be done to make improvements.

Green Schools ProgramAlliance to Save Energy
Energy costs are an enormous expense for our nation’s schools. To help free up more resources for education while strengthening academic learning, the Alliance’s Green Schools Program engages students in creating energy-saving activities in their schools, using hands-on, real-world projects.

National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project
NEED works to promote an energy conscious and educated society by creating effective networks of students, educators, business, government and community leaders to design and deliver objective, multi-sided energy education programs.

Mercury-Free Zone Program
This program of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency works with Minnesota schools to reduce the risk of potential mercury exposure to students and school staff, to prevent releases of mercury to the environment by eliminating mercury from schools, and to educate students and staff about the dangers of mercury.

Minnesota Retired Engineers Technical Assistance Program (RETAP)
Provides free, confidential, non-regulatory assessments and services in pollution prevention, waste reduction, and energy use to schools and other institutions to help them reduce pollution, waste, energy use, and operating costs.

Collaborative for High Performance Schools
CHPS is dedicated to creating a new generation of high performance schools that provide an excellent learning environment while preserving our natural resources. This organization provides outreach information, services, and incentive programs directly to designers.

Go Green Initiative
The Go Green Initiative is a non-profit organization focused on PTAs. Their goal is to provide every school in America the opportunity to protect the environment and children’s health through adoption of the Go Green Initiative.

The KidWind Project
KidWind is dedicated to improving the quality and quantity of wind energy science education throughout the US through their teacher workshops and educational materials.

Midwest Renewable Energy Association
MREA is a nonprofit that promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. MREA offers workshops on energy efficient and alternative construction, photovoltaics, solar thermal systems, and wind systems.

Programs in other States

  • Illinois Healthy Schools Campaign: The campaign works with a broad network of individuals and organizations to advocate for policies and model programs that allow students and staff to learn and work in a healthy school environment.
  • Oregon Green Schools: Oregon Green Schools offers assistance with school waste audits, provides guidance and training for new programs, and recommends curriculum resources and grant opportunities.
  • Wisconsin Green & Healthy Schools Program: This program encourages teachers, staff, students and parents to work together to use the school, its grounds, and the whole community as learning tools to help teach, promote, and apply healthy, safe and environmentally sound practices.
  • Greening Schools – IL EPA & Waste Management Research Center: This program helps schools provide a safe and healthy environment that can save money, improve learning conditions, and increase efficiency.
  • Air Quality Curriculum Project (AQCP): AQCP is an educational program implemented by the Environmental Educational Outreach Program (EEOP) at Northern Arizona University (NAU). The goal of AQCP is to provide a supplement to the US EPA’s Project A.I.R.E. curriculum that is tribally focused, culturally sensitive, and teacher friendly. The AQCP develops case studies for teachers and students to use to investigate their local air quality issues.

Curriculum & Educational Materials

Renewable Energy and Schools: A Step-by-Step GuideMinnesota Renewable Energy Society
This guide provides a step-by-step approach to help navigate the sometimes obscure process of creating a successful renewable energy project that meets the school’s educational, sustainability, fiscal and environmental goals. The guide lays out a general process, but also provides examples of details and technical information, as well as educational, financial, and technical resources available to schools.

Cooling Your Heels: Steps to Reducing Your Carbon FootprintCEE, CERTs – August 2008
This presentation will guide you through the idea of carbon footprints and some simple first steps that you can take as students and teachers to reduce yours.

Energy Lesson Plans, Curriculum, and Educational MaterialsUS DOE EERE
Includes resources for lesson plans, curriculum, and educational materials for teaching students and children about energy, particularly energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Renewable Energy Education ProgramsNREL
This site includes a mix of lessons, projects, and teaching and learning guides. These materials vary in duration, grade level, and topic. They do not, when taken as a whole, form a comprehensive renewable energy curriculum. Rather, they represent diverse materials developed through equally diverse research assignments and projects.

Energy Infobooks & ActivitiesNEED
Extensive guides and activities for various technologies and grade levels.

Energy Conservation ContractNEED
This efficiency curriculum project for grades 4-12 is aimed at educating students about energy savings through encouraging their families to conserve.

Minnesotans building a clean energy future


    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission