How It Works

What is ReNew Our Schools?

In a nutshell, ReNew Our Schools is a 5-week energy reduction competition in which 8-16 schools in one Colorado public school district compete for large monetary prizes.

It is a program run by a Boulder-based non-profit organization called Resource Central.  The program began in 2007 with the idea of helping schools cut their greenhouse gas emissions, but has evolved into an intensive program that leads districts to establish their own energy reduction programming.

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Where does the funding for the program come from?

We have 3 incredibly generous donors:

1) Innovo Foundation,

2) All Points North Foundation, and

3) Colorado Energy Office.

Ongoing partnerships with these organizations have allowed us to run many successful competitions in school districts across Colorado.

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What schools can participate?

ReNew Our Schools works with public school districts in Colorado.   Within those districts, any public or charter school, grades K-12, is eligible.

If you are a teacher who is interested in getting some ideas for your classroom, you are outside of Colorado, or don’t think you will be able to participate in ReNew Our Schools, please contact me at kcroasdale@resourcecentral.org .  I would be glad to help you find what you need. 

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How can I apply for ReNew Our Schools?

Individual schools are not able to apply for our program unless their district has committed to participate. If your district has made the commitment, an application will be sent to all K-12 schools in the district.

If your school is interested in participating in our program, it is important to enlist the support of your Energy Manager, Sustainability Coordinator, or someone at the administration level who can make these decisions for your district.   Typically, a school district’s Energy Manager or Sustainability Coordinator contacts us with interest. If your district is interested in participating, please send an email to kcroasdale@resourcecentral.org to see if your district could qualify. 

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How does the program work?

For 5 weeks, 8-16 schools in 1 school district compete for large monetary prizes by earning points in 3 areas:

  • School Measured Savings

Students, teachers and staff work to reduce energy use by behavioral means only (turning off lights, removing unnecessary appliances, shutting down equipment, etc.)

  • Home Energy Actions

Each home in the community that completes a Home Energy Action Pledge can earn points for their school

  • School Energy Actions

Schools earn points by conducting an energy audit and other energy-themed activities that engage the students, staff, and community.

At the end of the 5 weeks, the points from each category are added up to determine the winners. During the competition, the performance of each school can be tracked on our website which makes it a fun and intense competition!  

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What are the awards?

Schools can win up to $20,000 to make energy efficiency changes to their building. During the competition, students do an extensive school audit discovering areas where their school could be made more energy efficient. If they win an award, they can use the funds to make changes to their building, making it more energy efficient. Past winners have chosen LED lights, solatubes for daylighting, solar arrays, occupancy sensors, window tinting, solar shades and more!  

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If my school participates, what resources do we receive?

Each school that participates gets:

  • Access to the competition website and curriculum
  • An eGauge electricity monitor that shows real-time electricity consumption
  • A Mentor– a professional from the energy field who provides knowledge and support to the students during competition
  • Hands-on energy tool kits (light meters, thermometers, kill-o-watts) for students to analyze their school’s energy use
  • Support from the program manager and school district staff
  • A comparison of current electricity usage to your ‘baseline data’, which is how much electricity your school typically uses. This comparison shows how much electricity you are saving every day!  

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What is an eGauge?

An eGauge is an electricity monitor that shows your school’s electricity use in real-time. Schools can turn the lights off and immediately see a drop in electricity usage on a graph. It is a tremendous learning tool for students and a great aide for school districts to learn how to reduce their energy use. These devices are installed before the competition begins, used to track energy use during the competition, and are permanent property of the school after the competition ends. 

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What results have other schools seen?

Schools that have participated in ReNew Our Schools have achieved tremendous results-saving their district thousands of dollars in the month of competition. Some schools have reduced their electricity use by up to 30%. Districts have gotten up to 2000 homes to pledge to save energy. Environmental Clubs are created or revitalized. Every district that has participated has kept the saving and programs going long after the competition is finished—continuing the savings! 

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Why would our school want to participate?

ReNew Our Schools is a STEM based program that brings a real-world issue into the classroom. It creates a great sense of community as students and staff work together to face an exciting challenge. Students have the confidence and background knowledge to become leaders in their school and speak to others about energy conservation. ReNew Our Schools is a STEM-based program that provides great structure and the necessary tools for students to become empowered experts and leaders in the area of energy knowledge. 

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Why would our district want to participate?

A school district can save tens of thousands of dollars by participating in ReNew Our Schools. Also, our program is a tremendous ‘conversation starter’ around sustainability and energy conservation. In all other districts that have participated, ReNew Our Schools has been a catalyst for district-wide sustainability programming. 

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What school districts have participated?

St. Vrain Valley School District, Boulder Valley School District, Jefferson County Schools, Thompson School District, Aurora Public Schools, Pueblo City Schools and Poudre School District. We have competitions scheduled for 2018 in Douglas County School District and Adams 12. 

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I am interested in becoming a mentor. I am a professional in the energy field. How can I become a Mentor?

We would LOVE to have you as a mentor!

Mentors are individuals from the energy field who guide the schools through the competition. We have had mentors from over 50 organizations such as Bolder Energy Engineers, Platte River Power Authority,Colorado Energy Office, Hord Coplan Macht, Iconergy, City of Loveland, Group 14 Engineering, McKinstry, etc. We have had them from utility companies, energy consulting firms, architecture firms, and engineering companies.

Other companies who have participated include: Bureau of Land Management, Engineering Economics, Vail Resorts, NREL, Xcel Energy, Energy Outreach Colorado, EnergySmart Colorado, Trane, Black Hills Energy, NREL, Brendle Group, City of Fort Collins, RB&B Architects, Power TakeOff, Cadmus, Siemens Industry, Johnson Controls, University of Colorado, United Power, General Services Administration, Harness Energy, and Lotus Sustainability.

If you are interested in volunteering as a mentor, please contact Kathy Croasdale at kcroasdale@resourcecentral.org .

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I don’t really have a lot of knowledge of the energy field—can I still become a mentor?

YES! If you enjoy working with students and are passionate about sustainability, please sign up! We can give you the training and guidance needed to be a successful mentor.

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What kind of commitment is being a mentor?

If you volunteer as a mentor, you will be assigned to one school during the competition. We ask that you attend an Orientation (1 hour, but can be done remotely), and meet with your school face to face a minimum of 1 time during the competition. Of course, you can meet more often! Also, we ask that you provide email and phone support during the competition. Most Mentors find the experience very rewarding and offer more time than is required. 

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To learn more about the competition and eligibility requirements for participation, contact ReNew Our Schools Program Manager, Kathy Croasdale.


Summit Middle School created this video to describe their journey toward winning the ReNew Our Schools Challenge