Academic stars and Energy Stars, an assessment of student academic achievement and school building energy efficiency

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College of Business


Considerable efforts have been made to increase the energy efficiency of school buildings across the country. Despite this, limited research examines the relationship between energy efficiency and student productivity. We use a unique panel dataset from a suburban school district that includes information on school building energy efficiency, measured by Energy Star scores, and other environmental attributes of buildings, as well as measures of individual student achievement, measured by standardized test scores. The empirical analysis controls for student and school fixed effects and evaluates the relationship between school characteristics and achievement. Separate models also evaluate how school characteristics impact student health and behavioral outcomes and the how these outcomes influence student test scores. We find no evidence that Energy Star scores have an impact on the indoor school environment or student performance on standardized tests, suggesting that building energy performance does not come at a cost to the performance of building inhabitants. We also find positive relationships between building thermal comfort and visual quality and standard test scores. Overall, the results highlight the importance of considering both the environmental and human capital impacts associated with decisions about investments in school infrastructure.

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© 2020 Elsevier Ltd. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Energy Policy