WASHINGTON, DC— The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), today released a Notice of Intent (NOI) announcing $80 million in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to make K-12 schools more resilient and and reduce their energy costs, including the nation’s neediest schools. This funding is the first phase of the Renew America’s Schools Grant Program created by the infrastructure act to provide schools with critical energy infrastructure upgrades.
Through the grant program, DOE will fund energy and health improvements in K-12 public schools across the country. In addition, the new DOE awards program will help provide 25 high-need school districts with the training and tools needed to improve their schools’ energy efficiency. Through President Biden’s Joint Infrastructure Act, these investments will address historic inequities in school resources, reduce school energy costs, and improve health and learning outcomes for children and workers, while also supporting the promise of bringing good-paying jobs to communities.
“Nearly half of our nation’s school districts – along with extremely low-income and rural districts – struggle to maintain aging facilities and ensure that classrooms are safe from health hazards,” he said. US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This major investment, made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will lead to healthier learning environments and lower energy costs so school districts can equally lead the clean energy transition.”
Energy use is the second-highest expense that schools face, often requiring schools to invest in energy-related costs over other important educational needs of students. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2021 Infrastructure Scorecard rates our nation’s school facilities at D+, and a June 2020 GAO report found that nearly half of public school districts are struggling to improve and maintain building systems that ensure facilities they are free. health hazards. The GAO report found that 41% of school districts need to update or replace heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems. Districts serving historically disadvantaged communities receive the greatest burden of outdated school resources, and many lack the resources and expertise needed to seek State grant funding.
The Renewing America’s Schools grant aims to lower utility costs, improve indoor air quality, and reduce carbon emissions in schools across the country with an emphasis on rural districts and low-income schools. This investment is the first of its kind from the DOE, and eligible projects will include energy upgrades to reduce building operating costs – such as new HVAC and ventilation systems, envelope and lighting projects, and other energy and renewable energy technologies. Applications for the first round of this grant, which amounts to 80 million dollars available to schools, will open in November 2022 and close in January 2023.
Competition for the new Sustainable Schools Development Awards
DOE is also launching the Energy CLASS Award. In response to several stakeholder reports that many school districts lack the resources and knowledge to find and fund projects, this award facilitates capacity building for local education agencies (LEAs) to identify and implement health and energy improvements, particularly in disadvantaged school districts.
The Energy CLASS Award Program will cost $4.5 million and provide LEAs with awards to staff and train selected administrative and institutional personnel as energy managers. Up to 25 LEAs will receive $100,000 in cash awards to support energy managers’ participation in 80-160 hours of online training over a 12-month period. Throughout the program, energy managers will develop critical skills in areas such as measurement, operations and maintenance, strategic energy management, funding mechanisms, and community engagement. Participants will have access to individual training advice and training on projects specifically targeted at their schools. At the conclusion of the training, LEAs can submit a progress report and – based on performance – can be eligible for an additional cash award of $50,000. Applications for the Energy CLASS Award will open in November 2022 and close in February 2023.
To learn more about the grant and award, visit the DOE webpage on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Improvements in Public School Facilities.
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