Public schools can now apply for grants totalling $80 million from the Biden administration to pay for energy improvements. High-need K–12 school districts will get assistance from Renew America’s Schools funding programme. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes financing.
On November 29, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the availability of applications. To get financing, which is intended for energy-efficient repairs in the frequently ageing and inefficient school infrastructure, schools must meet the criteria for rural and/or high poverty.
According to the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 53% of public schools reported having outdated infrastructure, and nearly 41% of respondents said their HVAC systems had issues. In order to support all of these uses, many of these structures serve as both community amenities and emergency resource centres. To do this, they require an efficient and trustworthy infrastructure.
Applications are now being accepted for an initial funding round of up to $80 million under the Renew America’s Schools grant programme, which has a total budget of $500 million for 2022 through 2026. According to Utility Dive, qualified projects include HVAC renovations, installations of renewable energy sources, and the infrastructure needed for alternate cars.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm noted that by bringing these vital energy improvements to our students’ learning settings, our kids would be better able to realise their full potential in the classroom. The DOE is actively putting these vital monies to use so that schools may begin quickly converting infrastructure upgrades into healthier learning environments and significant cost savings. On December 6, interested candidates can join the programme webinar. Applications must be submitted by April 21, 2023, and concept papers must be submitted by January 26, 2023.
The Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools Prize (Energy CLASS) initiative is another opportunity for educational organisations to submit an application. Up to 25 organisations will earn $100,000 to hire and train personnel to serve as energy managers under this programme. Participants can submit progress reports and apply for an additional $50,000 after a year. Applications for Energy CLASS are due by February 28, 2023, and additional information will be presented in a webinar on December 7.
The proposal is a positive step, but detractors point out that it falls well short of the $100 billion in government investment that the administration had initially suggested for modernising school facilities. The United States has an estimated $38 billion annual budget deficit for public school facilities, according to the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.