Conservation 101


The primary goal of the Shared Savings Program at SFUSD is to reduce energy consumption at our public schools, and to create a culture of awareness that students, teachers, and staff can bring home with them. Using less energy helps the environment by reducing the amount pollution associated with electric power generation, and natural gas combustion, among others. Similarly, reducing the consumption of these valuable resources saves money, and creates a healthier learning and working environment. 

Conservation vs. Efficiency

There are two general ways to reduce the amount of energy and water we use:

  1. Efficiency: getting the same services with less energy input. Efficiency most often requires technological upgrades and significant investments to save energy and water. This is happening in SFUSD through Modernization work.
  2. Conservation: simply using less resources. Conservation is most often behavior based and relies on education, outreach, and awareness to reduce wasted energy and other limited resources. This is happening in SFUSD though the Shared Savings Program!

Our goal is not to reduce useful energy consumption, only to curb wasted energy. Our schools are quickly collecting technology that, while energy consumptive, incredibly improve the educational environment. For example, we aren’t discouraging using your projector in the classroom, just turn it off when you’re not using it, and unplug it before weekends and school breaks. 

Achieving the Greatest Savings

The biggest energy consumer in SFUSD is our heaters. Natural gas is pumped into the school and burned to create heat (either boiled water, which is pumped through the radiators, or heated air, which is forced through ducts). As such, natural gas is the most expensive contributor to our utility bills. To achieve the greatest savings for your school, reduce your heating load. Here are some simple strategies:

  • Only turn on your heater when necessary and use the lowest settings to achieve a comfortable temperature
    • 68º is the recommended temperature setting for comfort and conservation
  • When the heat is on, close windows and doors. Keep the heat where you want it!
  • Keep exterior doors closed on cold days.

Electricity is the second largest source of energy consumption. Overhead lights, computers, projectors, personal appliances all contribute to our schools’ electric power load. Here are some easy ways to reduce electricity use:

  • Use daylighting whenever possible instead of overhead lights
  • Plug personal appliances into a power strip and power down each day
  • If you have an HVAC system (i.e. portables) make sure it’s programmed to turn off at the end of each day and on weekends

Last but not least, water and sewer! Although water in and water out are included in our utility bills, we have decided to exclude water use from the Shared Savings Program (i.e. it will not be considered for the 5% reduction). We concluded that, although water is a precious resource that should still be conserved, it was a difficult utility to adjust through behavioral incentives alone. That being said, we are still tracking water use for all schools in the program and will provide water use data on a monthly basis to schools who are interested!

Taking these actions and encouraging your colleagues to do the same will ensure your school will rake in the Shared Savings!