Engaging Students and Staff in Energy Use Goals Yields Big Savings in Second Largest School District in Nevada

Washoe County School District (WCSD) is the second largest school district in Nevada with 61,000 students in 102 schools. Like many large school districts, WCSD faces several challenges including staffing shortages, budget deficiency, critical maintenance requirements and limited operational funds. In addition to reducing overcrowding, facility modernization and updating safety features, the district has been focused on its sustainability practices and increasing energy efficiency across the district. In 2016, WCSD partnered with McKinstry to improve its educational environments and decrease energy consumption. The three-phase project, completed in late 2022, impacted over 105 buildings including schools and administrative facilities.

The project was made possible through an Energy Performance Contract (EPC). McKinstry was selected as WCSD’s partner because of our unique approach to developing high-performing and energy-efficient buildings and our willingness to stand behind our work by guaranteeing energy and cost savings. The EPC provided the district with a cost-neutral solution to achieve optimal learning environments for their students and plan for resilient and sustainable operations for the future. Funding for the $32 million project came from a combination of bonds and locally supported capital funding initiatives, including a 0.54% increase in sales and use tax directed to the construction of new schools and the revitalization of existing facilities.

District-wide, several energy conservation measures were implemented, including tens of thousands of LED lighting installations, indoor water conservation upgrades like flush valves and flow restrictors, irrigation system improvements, the installation of programmable network thermostats and McKinstry’s energy performance dashboard, Reveal™, for efficient monitoring and measurement. The combination of these improvements has led to 18.8% in energy savings and 14.2% in water savings.

Speaking on the project’s positive impact on the district, Jason Geddes, the district’s energy and sustainability manager, shared, “Even as Washoe County School District has continued to complete capital improvement projects and build new schools across the district, our ongoing partnership with McKinstry has allowed us to lessen the gross energy use district-wide and has produced almost 2.5 million dollars in annual savings.”

Outside of implementing capital improvements and retrofits, WCSD recognized the power of engaging occupants district-wide to further their energy goals. By implementing powerED, a behavior-based program, the district has achieved even more reduced costs, increased energy efficiency and most of all, engaged and empowered occupants who now have a personal and vested interest in making an impact on their own community.

The powerED program uses a highly collaborative approach to empower occupant behavioral change with three areas of focus: People, Process and Performance. The McKinstry powerED team customized each area of focus to best engage WCSD’s students and staff and meet the unique needs of the district. As part of a customized People module, McKinstry offered to support the district’s ongoing relationship with Envirolution, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and scaling dynamic K-12 education and youth leadership centered around energy efficiency, sustainability and STEM education. WCSD partnered with Envirolution to develop staff training and curriculum using real-time district data through McKinstry’s energy performance dashboard, Reveal™.

McKinstry is honored to partner with the district through their ongoing sustainability journey to transform learning spaces into healthy, productive environments for students and staff. In addition to the successes demonstrated through the powerED program and overall energy efficiency upgrades, McKinstry is also partnering with the district on the development of an Energy Efficiency Policy, a policy that will continue to uplift the district’s sustainability efforts for years to come.

Learn more about the project and the district’s annual savings by visiting the district’s customized Reveal™ dashboard here: https://reveal.mckinstry.com/?token=6b0c63c156b2d313587a3aee4a6ddc8f


Reno, NV

Carbon Savings

11,172 tons annually



Square Footage

7,285,780 sq ft

Services Provided


Energy Performance Contract (EPC)

Active Energy Management (AEM)

Existing Building Commissioning (EBCx)

“The powerED program has led to substantial operational and utility cost savings while serving as an educational tool for our students. The improvements gained from moving to cloud-based facility management will ensure our buildings are efficiently maintained and ready to serve our community, and that learning environments are consistently properly ventilated, heated and cooled for optimal student learning.”

– Jason Geddes, Washoe County District’s Energy and Sustainability Manager