Best Practices for Efficiently Meeting Indoor Air Quality Standards in K-12 Schools


According to the U.S. Department of Energy, K-12 schools and higher education institutions spend a combined $14 billion on utility costs annually. The education sector continues to balance aging facilities with deferred maintenance challenges, rising utility costs, limited budgets, workforce retention concerns, and an increasing demand for technology in the classroom.


The nearly 2,000 public and 500 private K-12 schools in Massachusetts, with thousands of buildings of varying vintages, are one of the largest energy consumers in the state, spending roughly $25 million annually for electricity and natural gas. Implementing changes in the way these facilities are operated, schools can more efficiently use taxpayer dollars and resources, conserve energy, and increase student and staff comfort and productivity. Also, importantly, the resulting cost reductions can be used to support other budget areas.


While completely eliminating energy expenses in school may not be achievable, there are many ways to decrease energy use. This can include anything from making basic operational adjustments to major equipment upgrades across all the various categories – lighting, HVAC, water heating, kitchen equipment, etc. – of energy use throughout school buildings.


The Sponsors of Mass Save have a long, successful track record of working with K-12 schools in the Commonwealth to identify and implement a wide array of energy savings measures. Contact your Mass Save sponsor to learn more about how, through our financial and technical assistance, we can help you and your school district reduce energy use and operating costs.


Energy Efficiency Resources

We recommend you explore the following resources to learn more about energy efficiency opportunities for K-12 schools.

  1. U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings
  2. A Guide to Zero Energy and Zero Energy Ready K-12 Schools, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
  3. MA Department of Energy Resources, Green Communities Designation & Grant Program


Health & Safety

Protecting the health and safety of students, faculty and staff from the spread of COVID-19 is essential as students return to school.


There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that improvements to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, can help to enhance indoor air quality and reduce transmission of airborne diseases such as COVID-19.


While HVAC measures to mitigate COVID-19 will increase energy usage in many cases, there are ways to ensure that you are not using more energy than needed. The sponsors of Mass Save can help you analyze your HVAC strategies and find energy efficient ways to improve indoor air quality.


Please see our Business Rebates and Incentives for information about incentives available for energy efficient HVAC improvements or contact your Mass Save sponsor to learn more about how we can help you save.


Webinar: Best Practices for Efficiently Meeting Indoor Air Quality Standards in K-12 schools

This webinar featured speakers from Environmental Health & Engineering (EH&E), National Energy Education Development (NEED), CMTA Engineering, and the sponsors of the Mass Save and will cover topics such as:

  • An overview of IAQ best practices for minimizing the spread of COVID-19
  • HVAC approaches to meet IAQ standards
  • How to communicate these changes to faculty, students and parents
  • How to meet IAQ standards while minimizing energy use and costs

Click here to download and view the webinar

Click here to download and view the webinar slide deck


Additional Health & Safety Resources

We have also compiled additional resources that represent the latest guidance regarding reducing transmission of COVID-19 in K-12 schools.

  1. Harvard-CU Boulder portable air cleaner calculator for schools
  2. EPA - Indoor Air & COVID-19
  3. ASHRAE - Coronavirus Resources
  4. MA DESE - COVID-19 Information & Resources
  5. Harvard – T.H. Chan School of Public Health Resources
  6. CDC – COVID-19 Resources