Energizing the "K-Gray" Community: Energy Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts

Project Overview
Positive Impact: First nationally recognized framework for teaching energy using an interdisciplinary, systems-based approach (natural sciences, technology, engineering, economics, social sciences, and policy), with focus on improving energy decision-making by all citizens.
Location: Nationwide and global
Partners: 13 U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Federal Agencies, more than 20 education partners
EERE Investment: $50,000

Energy Literacy is a key initiative within Education and Workforce Development in EERE’s Office of Strategic Programs. Enhancing U.S. citizens’ energy understanding involves educating individuals on the interdisciplinary concepts of energy production and consumption, so individuals have the potential to make well-informed energy decisions. The creation of an energy-literate society is critical in advancing the next generation’s energy workforce. EERE is providing the energy principles and concepts that are essential for all and can be easily incorporated into curriculum, standards, programs, and activities.

Both the public and private sectors are putting the Energy Literacy Framework to use:

  • The Navy, Air Force, and Army are in discussions with EERE about how to apply the Energy Literacy Framework to their training programs and academies to achieve energy culture changes.
  • Many of the Energy Literacy Fundamental Concepts are evident in the K–12 Next Generation Science Standards.
  • The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network, a nationally recognized academic network, provides a guide for educators built off the Energy Literacy Framework, as well as a peer-reviewed collection of 586 lesson plans and activities for educators working with grades 6–16.
  • Ecodads, a non-profit education group from California focused on financial and ecological literacy, is developing an iBook about renewable energy, which incorporates Energy Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, as well as EERE’s Energy 101 Video collection.
  • The Sustainability in Prisons Project in Washington State used the Energy Literacy Framework to inform the development of a sustainability course taught to inmates and correctional staff—finding that involving prisoners and correctional staff in sustainability practices resulted in cost savings and reduced violence.
  • National Geographic Education uses the Energy Literacy Principles in its energy education collection, Connect! Transform the Future, and also has an Energy Potential guide for educators of students in grades 3–8. National Geographic Entertainment is also working on a documentary, Electropolis 3D, which will cover a wide range of Energy Literacy Principles (release is set for early 2014).

In 2012, EERE developed the publication, Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education, to provide energy educators with a framework detailing the breadth of knowledge and understanding one would have if energy literate. Energy Literacy 2.0, updated with the most recent energy data, is set to be printed September 2013, and the Energy Literacy Framework will be translated into Spanish to engage an even wider range of energy educators around the country.


EERE's workforce and education effort focuses on targeted activities along the education-to-employment pathway and is designed to help create highly skilled professionals to support energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors.

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