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MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, Computer Science

Resource Types

  • Podcasts, 11 minutes, 12 seconds
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Lesson Plans
  • Worksheets
  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States



Energy Efficiency and Climate Change

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  • This lesson lets students explore information about energy efficiency, perform an energy audit of their classroom, and make recommendations about how to help reduce climate emissions through energy conservation and reducing energy waste. 
  • The educator guide provides discussion questions, class activities, and student readings. 
Teaching Tips


  • The podcast presents the challenges and benefits of implementing more energy efficiency measures for homes and commercial buildings in a simple format.
  • The classroom energy audit will get students thinking about their everyday actions and help them understand how big of an impact they can make each day.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This resource uses terms related to economic principles, such as incentives, upfront and downstream costs, and the grid. 


  • To see the impact of various climate solutions, look at this table of solutions provided by Project Drawdown and click on Scenario 1 twice to rank them.
  • Ethics and social studies classes could discuss why property owners might choose to implement or avoid energy-efficient technology in their (or their tenants') homes. Students could consider the following questions:
    • How would a property owner benefit (financially or otherwise) from a building that is energy efficient?
    • Would an energy-efficient building attract more long-term tenants? Why or why not?
    • Is it better to force property owners to adopt energy-efficient building methods or provide incentives? Why?
  • Other resources on this topic include this Khan Academy video on energy conservation, this video on sustainable housing, and this article on the powerful impact of household actions on climate change.
Scientist Notes
This resource includes a podcast in which an MIT expert is interviewed and presents an overview of challenges associated with energy efficiency. Along with renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency is a critical tool for reducing our emissions and slowing climate change. This is a complex topic that spans economics, policy, and consumer behavior, and this resource presents these topics clearly and concisely. A transcript and educator guide, along with additional resource links, are provided. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
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