Schools curbing energy costs by building green

School officials in Oregon are learning a thing or two from a prototype uber-green classroom near Salem, which uses a large skylight and other technologies to enhance and regulate the natural light coming into the space. With energy bills eating up millions of dollars from school budgets, the project demonstrates that classrooms can be built or retrofitted at competitive cost with no need for artificial lighting during the day, even in the rainy Northwest. Officials touring the space say they’re impressed. “Even on an overcast day, when I visited, the classroom was very, very bright,” said Catherine Diviney, energy specialist for the Portland public school district, which spent more than $6 million for lighting and heating in the last school year. Oregon school districts are reporting significant energy savings thanks to adopting green-building techniques, from using groundwater for heating and cooling to installing natural ventilation systems.