Public Sector


Tempe Union High School District

Tempe Union High School District

The Opportunity

Tempe Union High School District serves nearly 14,000 students at its seven high schools in the greater Phoenix area. To better serve their diverse student population and solidify their identity as a 21st century district, TUHSD identified two key priorities as they started developing a Sustainability Master Plan: (1) revamp student learning opportunities utilizing 21st century skills, and (2) find ways to promote and secure long-term energy savings.

The Partnership

In November 2011, following a comprehensive assessment of its facilities, the district selected OpTerra Energy Services to implement a program of facility upgrades and sustainability education at seven schools. The OpTerra team designed, engineered and implemented a comprehensive program of facility upgrades and sustainability education to meet Tempe’s priorities. Guided by a shared vision for student success, TUHSD and OpTerra worked together to structure a program that aligns with the District’s goals and its commitment to excellence in teaching and learning, with both of these program aspects coalescing in the creation and roll-out of seven Living Labs across the District.

The Impact

The TUHSD program has successfully helped its schools reduce energy and maintenance costs, improve the learning environment, engage students, and expand cross curricular experiences with STEM education. With 24% projected annual reduction in electric utility purchases, the District is capturing long-term savings from lower utility costs and reduced energy use. OpTerra has also trained a District employee as an Energy Coach to lead the sustainability education efforts, support and train teachers, coordinate campus energy teams, and provide ongoing progress reports to District management and taxpayers. OpTerra remains engaged with the district and its Energy Coach to support continuous program improvement and development of relevant curriculum related to the Living Labs, as well as sponsoring and participating in community STEM education efforts such as Tempe’s annual “Geeks Night Out” event.

The Technical Scope

  • Energy efficiency facility upgrades across District
  • Solar array implementation
  • Living Labs development: Comprised of cutting-edge technologies — from high-efficiency lighting to solar thermal and electric-vehicle charging stations — Living Labs provide an information bridge linking students to today’s energy technologies and energy management systems.