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What's Up in the Environment?
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Class Projects  Energy Audit


Each year, the U.S. uses more energy per capita than any other nation. All this energy consumption adds up to thousands of pounds of pollutants in the air. Reducing our energy use will enable us to slow the depletion of natural resources, keep the Earth cleaner, and save money.

In this project, students will find out whether they are wasting energy in their daily lives by conducting an energy audit, and discover simple, cost-saving measures to conserve energy. Once they gain this information, they will see what it takes to get their community to start its own energy-saving campaign!

This project incorporates elements of the scientific method.

Grade level
Middle school, but can be adapted to suit other grades

Time allotment
Up to 1 semester

Subject matter
Main focus on environmental science, with language arts and social studies connections

Learning objectives
Students will:
  • Gain an understanding of elements of the scientific method and use the scientific method to conduct all steps of the project.

  • Investigate the level of energy usage on a national and local level.

  • Learn how over-consumption of energy negatively affects the environment.

  • Discover a variety of ways to conserve energy in their daily lives.

  • Conduct an energy audit of their school and/or homes.

  • Implement energy-saving measures and calculate the total amount of energy saved.

  • Implement an energy-conservation campaign in their community.

  • Work cooperatively using technology.
  • North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
    Excellence in Environmental Education: Guidelines for Learning
    Strand 1—Questioning and Analysis Skills (Guidelines A, B, C, D, E); Strand 2.1—The Earth as a Physical System (C); Strand 2.3—Humans and Their Societies (C, D, E); Strand 2.4—Environment and Society (A, B, C, D, E); Strand 3.1—Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues (A, B, C, D); Strand 3.2—Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills (A, B, C, D); Strand 4—Personal and Civic Responsibility (A, B, C, D).

  • National Education Technology Standards
    Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts; Standard 2: Social, ethical, and human issues; Standard 3: Technology productivity tools; Standard 4: Technology communications tools; Standard 5: Technology research tools; Standard 6: Technology problem-solving and decision-making tools.
Students will conduct an energy audit of their school to determine where the most common areas of energy waste are and how they can reduce this waste. They then create a list of energy-conserving tips and communicate what they've learned through a Web site, promotional e-mails, and/or flyers. Finally, they create a Web site or write an article describing their project, reflecting on what worked and what didn't, and sharing how it felt to be involved in an environmental effort. Students notify local newspapers and officials of their project and communicate their concern for conserving energy.

Computer resources
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above
  • Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • RealPlayer plug-in. Download for free at
Materials needed
  • WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT video (optional)
  • Surveys - if you chose not to do it online: paper and access to a copier machine
  • Charts - if you chose not to do it in Excel use large chart paper and markers
  • Energy flyers - if you chose not to create a Web page: paper, markers, photographs, glue, scissors, OR software as simple as Paint or PowerPoint
  • Excel (optional)
  • PowerPoint (optional)
  • Free energy audit kit - for a free CD Rom that takes you through the required steps for conducting an energy audit, write to:
    The U.S. Dept. of Energy
    Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    Office of Building Technology, State and Community Programs
    Attn: Mail Code EE-42,
    1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.,
    Washington, D.C., 20585-0121
Online resources

Teacher tool Web sites

Bookmark these Web sites for student research

Tools for students

  • Ask a Department of Energy Expert
    This site allows you to ask a question of a DOE expert. It does ask for personal information, so teachers may want to type in the questions themselves.

  • National Wildlife Federation: Take Action
    This site gives great advice on how to write to local media, write press releases, plan campaigns, and more. You may want to have your students consult this site for advice on how to write their tip sheet.

  • Web Page Building Sites
    If you chose to create a Web-based fact sheet but your students have limited knowledge of html, you may want to have them use these free, Web templates that allow them to input their images and text without writing any code.

Energy audit information

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