SEI provides curriculum and teacher training in the areas of energy and resource efficiency, climate change science, renewable energy, green transportation and green careers.
Below is detailed information on our curriculum resource library:
SEI offers semester or year-long UC A-G approved courses that are designed to meet the California Career Technical Education Standards for the Energy, Environment, and Utilities sector.
Introduction to Green Technology
A D-Lab Science course that introduces students to career opportunities in sustainable STEM fields through a series of projects including: wind turbine design, making biodiesel, creating solar cars, energy auditing, and residential circuit building.
Advanced Green Technology
A G-Elective Science course where students complete projects related to sustainable design, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. These projects are focused on these core topics: zero net energy, solar installation, aquaponics, solar hot water, and biomimicry.
SEI High School Sustainability Certificates
SEI offers 5 Certificates designed to develop career skills with high school students in a wide range of disciplines including science, math, social studies, leadership, and career technical education. Lessons can be delivered individually or as a semester or year-long program, and include background information, activities, worksheets, templates, and several optional extension projects. If students successfully complete the Certificate, they earn a Certificate from SEI and may concurrently earn high school and college credit.
The High School Energy Auditing Certificate provides instruction and hands-on experience that prepares students to perform a comprehensive energy audit of their school, and other residential and commercial buildings. By coupling relevant background material on sustainability, climate change science, and energy careers with specific auditing skills, this course gives students the knowledge they need to understand the energy auditing profession and the range of applications for the skills learned through this Certificate. The curriculum leads teachers and students through an audit that includes: appliances, lighting, HVAC and other mechanical systems, the building envelope, utility bill analysis, and audit report writing. The Certificate culminates with a student presentation of their findings and recommendations to key decision-makers, such as their school board.
The SEI Sustainable Enterprise Certificate empowers students to start new initiatives in the for-profit, non-profit, and public sectors. Students first use critical and creative thinking to develop an opportunity based on an environmental and/or social problem they observe in their community or the world. The curriculum then guides students through the stages of business plan development and implementation, enabling them to experience the full entrepreneurship cycle.
The SEI Green Building Certificate provides hands-on lessons in green building design and construction, energy and water smart buildings, green building materials, green building economics, and the green collar workforce. Experiential activities include designing and constructing a model structure, conducting a green building site analysis, a school water audit, a life-cycle cost analysis of a green building project, and preparation for a green job interview.
The SEI Green Transportation Certificate provides background lessons in climate change science, sustainability concepts, sustainable fuels, personal vehicle technology, policy, urban planning, travel, and distribution. Students learn applicable skills to prepare them for green transportation career opportunities through experiential activities, including; designing and building a solar car, making bio-diesel, building a rocket stove, making a battery out of a lemon, calculating the walk score of a neighborhood, and preparing for a green transportation internship.
The SEI Solar Certificate is designed to prepare high school and community college students for entry-level positions in the solar industry, providing a strong foundation upon which to develop a productive career in a wide range of the diverse job categories within the industry. This Certificate includes a wide-range of topics and activities for energy career skill development: introduction to sustainability, climate change science, energy fundamentals, energy auditing & conservation, school solar design, and a final solar installation project. Students learn about the fundamentals of electricity and its connection to solar photovoltaic systems, and then apply their knowledge to complete a residential roof or ground mounted solar install. The opportunity for students to participate in a low-income residential solar installation project is offered by GRID Alternatives and supported by SunPower. Students will then research and analyze the growth of and existing career opportunities within the solar industry, think critically about some of the barriers to wide-spread renewable energy implementation, and assess their available opportunities for a future in energy career pathways.
SEI offers 12 project-based curriculum packages, ranging from 2-4 weeks of instruction, designed to develop career skills with high school students in a wide range of disciplines including science, engineering, math, social studies, leadership, and career technical education. Each curriculum unit focuses on a project to stimulate student interest in sustainability topics, ranging from energy to engineering to water. Lessons include background information, activities, worksheets, templates, and several optional extensions.
The SEI Home Energy Assessment curriculum guides students through an assessment of energy usage in their home. Students learn relevant background information on energy sources, renewable versus non-renewable energy, and climate change science that prepares them to evaluate energy efficiency and energy conservation opportunities and educate their families. The curriculum is both fun and technical, allowing students to consider the potential cost and greenhouse gas emissions reductions that can be achieved through smart energy choices.
The SEI Home Solar Design & Analysis curriculum guides students through a solar analysis of their home. Students gain an in-depth understanding of solar science, solar system sizing, and design considerations. Completing this analysis allows students to determine the size, cost, and location of a solar system installed for use in their home. Students will use their calculations of solar system size, cost, and payback period to make the case for solar at their home.
The SEI Home Water Assessment curriculum helps students understand the importance of water and opportunities for conservation by exploring the different ways we use water in our lives, directly and indirectly. Students learn about the water cycle, the energy-water nexus, and complete activities that allow them to assess how much water their family uses at home and prioritize opportunities for water use reduction.
The SEI School Solar Design & Analysis curriculum guides students through an analysis of the solar potential for their school. Students gain an in-depth understanding of solar science, solar system sizing, and design considerations. By completing the analysis, students can determine the system size, cost, and optimal location of a solar array for their school. In addition to solar science, this curriculum provides relevant background information on energy sources, the carbon cycle, the greenhouse gas effect, climate science, utility rate structures, and solar financial analysis. These topics are used as a basis for discussing why a school would consider a solar project. Students will complete a design for a solar system large enough to generate 80% of their school’s electricity use. Students will use their calculations of solar system size, cost, and payback period to develop a report and present their findings to their school board to make the case for solar at their school.
The SEI School Water Assessment curriculum emphasizes the importance of water as a resource, and guides students through an exploration of the different ways we use water at school and in other commercial buildings, both directly and indirectly. Students learn about the water cycle, the energy-water nexus, and complete an in-depth school audit that allow them to assess how much water is used at their school and develop a report with water use reduction recommendations.
Transportation accounts for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality in schools requires an understanding of how students and teachers travel to and from school. The SEI School Transportation Assessment provides hands-on lessons that guide students in conducting a transportation audit and calculating school transportation carbon emissions. By evaluating current transportation practices and impacts, students and school staff create informed strategies to encourage more sustainable transportation alternatives. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the transportation landscape at their school through a series of quantitative and qualitative Transportation Audits. Students will make the connections between vehicle miles traveled, miles per gallon, and climate change by calculating school trip emissions.
The SEI Eco Audit curriculum gives high school students real-world experience in promoting energy efficiency and sustainability by giving them the chance to perform a full sustainability audit for a local business. Students receive audit training, recruit a business to work with, perform an audit, create a report, and give a presentation on their findings both to their classmates and to the business they have audited. Through this experience, students gain skills in professional communication, report writing, and commercial sustainability auditing.
The SEI Solar Hot Water curriculum guides students through designing and building a solar hot water collector. Students gain an in-depth understanding of science of heat transfer, water heating efficiency, and design considerations. In addition to solar water heating science, this curriculum provides relevant background information on energy sources, the carbon cycle, the greenhouse gas effect, and climate science. These topics are used as a basis for discussing the benefits of transitioning to more efficient and sustainable water heating. Students experiment to determine materials with high insulation properties and high solar radiation absorption factors. Then, students design and construct a solar water heater collector.
The SEI Solar Phone (USB) Charger unit guides students step-by-step through the process of building a solar USB charger. Students gain an in-depth understanding of solar science and basic electrical circuitry. In addition to solar science, this curriculum provides relevant background information on energy sources, the carbon cycle, the greenhouse gas effect, and climate science. These topics are used as the basis for how a solar device charger benefits the environment. Students will complete the construction of a solar USB charger that has the ability to charge any device with a USB connection.
The SEI Watersheds and Public Water Systems curriculum provides students with hands-on learning activities to explore how water flows through their local watershed, and is distributed and treated through their public water and waste water systems. Students gain an in-depth understanding of the importance of water, how water is treated and transported, and how humans are impacting water sources, as well as skills in computer applications, biology, and chemistry. Projects include creating a GIS Story Map of their local water systems, conducting water quality testing and analysis, and designing a water filter. Students are introduced to careers in the water industry ranging from ecologist to engineer.
The SEI Engineering Aquatic Ecosystems curriculum guides students through the design challenge of developing a self-sustaining, closed-loop aquatic ecosystem that supports at least 5 organisms for at least 3 weeks. This project is designed to be highly self-directed and encourages students to identify problems and find solutions through self-guided experimentation and research. Based on their findings, students will choose living organisms, design the ecosystem, troubleshoot problems, and test solutions. Students conduct water quality testing and analysis, research projects, and develop technical drafts. Students are also be introduced to careers in the water industry, ranging from ecologist to engineer.
The Energy and Solar Monitoring Tool helps students to track your school’s electricity use over time and measure the success of energy conservation campaigns. This user-friendly spreadsheet helps students to learn Excel and automatically calculates outcomes and creates graphs to help students to educate their school community on energy use patterns.
The SEI Aquaponics: Design, Build & Sustain curriculum guides students through the design challenge of developing a sustainable aquaponics system at their school. Students will first research the problem of water and resource scarcity in relation to food production, and evaluate aquaponics as a sustainable solution for raising produce and fish. They will then work to groups to design their own low-impact aquaponics systems, by comparing and contrasting different design strategies. Students will conduct water quality testing and analysis, develop technical drafts, gain hands-on construction skills, learn about ecosystem dynamics, and be introduced to various careers in the water industry, ranging from ecologist to engineer.
As an extension to the SEI Aquaponics Curriculum, SEI’s Solar for Aquaponics unit teaches students about the benefits and fundamentals of solar energy and guides them to, through their own analysis, design and size an off-grid, ground-mounted solar PV system to power the pumps in the aquaponics system. This curriculum extension contains core lessons around sizing and choosing the appropriate major components in the solar PV system including the solar panels, charge controller, inverter, and batteries. The unit concludes with the installation of the solar PV system that students designed. Upon completion of the Aquaponics curriculum and solar extension, your school will have a sustainable, off-grid, closed-loop system that will provide learning opportunities for years to come.
In the SEI Biomimicry: Engineering Inspired by Nature curriculum, students find inspiration in nature for solutions to global problems. In this interdisciplinary unit, students explore the causes and impacts of climate change. They examine Earth’s species that have been adapting to changing climates and environments for millions of years whose perseverance suggests that humans should investigate some of the adaptive strategies found in biological systems and consider their applicability as innovative technologies. The unit culminates in a hands-on capstone design project, in which students will work in teams to design their own nature-inspired solutions that address how humans can adapt to changing environmental conditions.
The SEI School Energy Audit Grades 4-8 curriculum provides hands-on training in the fundamentals of energy, climate change, energy auditing concepts, and techniques. Students of all levels learn how to conduct an energy audit, using tools such as light and watt-meters to measure how much energy is being used within a room. Students collect and input data into the SEI reporting spreadsheet, and generate a report that provides recommendations specific to the school site. Students identify low or no cost energy saving behaviors that can take place at school, and develop an understanding of the benefits of energy conservation and efficiency in terms of saving energy, reducing costs, and protecting the environment.
The SEI Protect Your Climate curriculum includes 16 units of project-based learning activities about climate protection and energy use reduction for 4th and 5th grade students. Hands-on activities engage students in understanding and applying important climate change concepts. By integrating science, language arts, and mathematics, the curriculum encourages logic, foresight, and critical thinking, empowering students to make informed decisions to protect the climate.
The SEI Sustainability Grades K-1 curriculum explores the fundamental concepts of sustainability through 12 interactive, hands-on lessons about climate change, energy, water, transportation, and waste. The adaptable lessons allow the curriculum to span multiple disciplines, class schedules, student skill levels, and background knowledge. Concepts covered in the curriculum include the importance of protecting Earth’s natural resources, air pollution, global warming, the greenhouse effect, waste management, the water cycle, and green transportation. Examples of experiential activities include a greenhouse effect game, creating a compost bin, designing “Don’t Litter” posters, and experimenting with the three phases of water.
The SEI Sustainability Grades 2-3 curriculum expands on concepts learned in SEI’s K-1 unit, to further examine sustainability topics such as climate change, energy, water, transportation, and waste. Through thirteen interactive and hands-on lessons, students build a deeper understanding for the world and environment around them. The adaptable lessons allow the curriculum to span multiple disciplines, class schedules, student skill levels, and background knowledge. Examples of experiential activities include designing a Clean Air Neighborhood, building a simple generator, and conducting a class waste assessment.
SEI offers 4 school sustainability guides. Each guide supports student leaders to design and launch action-projects to reduce their impact on the environment and raise awareness. The guides provide templates and worksheets leading students in action planning and outreach to their school and community, and offer strategies to organize and sustain a team to maintain conservation efforts and achieve long-term goals.
This is an essential Guide for schools looking to reduce the amount of their refuse headed to a landfill. The SEI School Zero Waste Guide contains the information and tools necessary to establish a Green Team, set a goal, develop a plan for reducing waste, establish a baseline for landfill waste generated, implement waste reduction measures, and verify reduction results. The Guide identifies the important materials, preparation tasks, and waste audit processes and analyses to assess your school’s waste and implement conservation campaigns. The Guide provides resources for understanding the school’s existing waste infrastructure and a template for recording different amounts of recyclable and non-recyclable items placed in waste bins. After the initial assessment, it provides templates to identify items commonly misplaced and extrapolate recyclable and non-recyclable waste amounts over time. These results can motivate students to raise awareness of the issue and implement changes that can have huge implications for school operating costs and the environment.
This is an essential Guide for schools looking to reduce the amount of energy used at your school. The SEI Energy Conservation Guide contains the information and tools necessary to establish a Green Team, set a goal, develop a plan for reducing energy consumption, establish a baseline for energy use, implement energy reduction measures, and verify reduction results. It identifies the important materials, preparation tasks, and energy audit processes and analyses to assess energy use and implement conservation campaigns. The Guide provides resources for understanding the school’s existing energy usage and strategies for reducing energy use such as delamping and reducing phantom loads. The results of the implementation of a School Conservation Action Plan can have huge impacts on energy costs and environmental impact.
The SEI School Sustainability Policy Guide is designed to explain how school policies and regulations are created and the economic, environmental, and social benefits they can produce. The guide simplifies the complex task of policy development by providing examples of existing policies and regulations that address issues in a wide array of sustainability topics, including energy, water, waste, and procurement. In addition to examples, the Guide also includes templates to ease the process of creating new sustainability policies at your district or school.
The SEI Sustainability Fair Guide provides everything students, teachers, administrators, and parents need to create a fun and engaging school and community event to promote sustainability and provide hands-on environmental education activities. The Guide offers tools for planning, project management, fundraising, outreach, and fair activities to create an exciting and impactful event that attracts a wide audience.
Water is a scarce resource. Taking care of our limited water supplies, and the ecosystems that depend on them, is key to responsible environmental stewardship. The SEI School Water Conservation Guide contains the information and tools necessary to establish a Green Team, determine a baseline for historic or current water use, develop a plan for reducing water consumption, implement water use reduction measures and projects, and finally, verify reduction results. The guide identifies important materials and preparation tasks to aid in assessing your school’s potential for water conservation projects and strategies. The guide also provides resources for completing greywater installation projects, building a rainwater catchment system, and employing water-wise landscaping techniques. Ultimately, these projects create the opportunity for students and staff to learn more about water conservation and can have significant positive impacts on school operating costs as well as the environment
This toolkit is suited for teaching students of all levels about energy efficiency and energy conservation. The content supports lessons from SEI's Energy Auditing curriculum. The toolkit includes two Kill-a-Watt meters to measure power and energy consumption of electrical devices, two flicker checkers to identify overhead lighting ballast type, one Light Meter to measure the luminance of lighting, and one humidity temperature pen.
This toolkit is designed to make it easy to teach the hands-on lessons in the Green Transportation Certificate, including making a rocket stove, solar cars, and a battery out of a lemon. The toolkit includes metal cutters, six solar car kits, two sets of jumper wires with alligator clips, and two voltmeters.
This toolkit is designed to make it easy to teach the hands-on lessons in the Solar Certificate curriculum. The toolkit includes ten solar panels, ten multimeters with electrical leads, ten protractors, and ten compasses.