- New York state schools have $100 million available through the Clean Green School Initiative to help them implement environmental sustainability and building decarbonization projects, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.
- The initiative aims to encourage schools to install efficient cooling systems and clean energy technologies that can mitigate poor indoor air quality from pollution and wildfires and provide protection from extreme heat events, preventing heat-related illnesses or fatalities, according to a Jan. 23 news release.
- The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is launching a competitive application process, with incentive amounts starting at $500,000, for qualifying projects that demonstrate a potential to improve air quality, increase resiliency and provide an actionable pathway to electrification, the release said. Proposals are due by June 6.
As the count of high-heat days rises due to climate change, schools are finding it challenging to maintain comfortable temperatures while wrestling with obsolete infrastructure that demands repairs or upgrades to clean energy technologies, NYSERDA said. Hochul’s announcement supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s requirements, per the release. The act requires New York state to slash greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050, from 1990 levels.
The Clean Green Schools Initiative “allows schools to become environmentally sustainable by reducing energy loads, decarbonizing their buildings, improving air quality and implementing clean energy alternatives,” New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa said in the release.
“As we face fewer cold and snowy winters due to climate change, we must ensure schools have the resources necessary to upgrade infrastructure to keep buildings cool and improve air quality,” New York State Senator Shelley Mayer said.
All public school districts across New York are eligible to apply for the funding if they are designated as high-needs by the New York State Education Department or located in a disadvantaged community that meets the criteria laid out by the New York State Climate Justice Working Group, the release said. Those criteria include indicators that represent the environmental burdens or climate change risks in a community, or population characteristics and health vulnerabilities that amplify the impact of adverse climate change effects, according to a state fact sheet. The CJWG identifies 35% of New York state as disadvantaged communities, including 44% of census tracts in New York City, 42% in the mid-Hudson region and 35% in the Central New York and Finger Lakes regions, per the fact sheet.
The $100 million for public schools is part of $400 million earmarked for green building projects under the $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act, the release said. The Clean Green Schools Initiative, a program within the broader framework outlined in the act, was announced by Hochul in April 2022. It serves under-resourced public schools with a goal of helping them evolve into sustainable, resilient and healthy learning environments.
The funding announcement, NYSERDA said, builds on $14 million in awards that Gov. Hochul granted last October to help 11 under-resourced public school districts modernize their buildings and cut greenhouse gas emissions. These upgrades cover the installation of ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and electric kitchen equipment to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improve indoor air quality. Schools can identify and evaluate other opportunities to cut energy costs and incorporate clean energy into their capital planning through NYSERDA’s Flexible Training Assistance Program, which provides technical assistance to schools, the release said.