As part of the new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050.
“Children should be able to learn and grow in environments that are not plagued with poor insulation and ventilation, leaky roofs, or poor heating and cooling,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden fought for these funds to give schools and their communities the resources they need to improve student and teacher health and cut energy costs, allowing districts to focus more resources on student learning.”
Many of America’s public schools are in desperate need of energy improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s 100,000 public K-12 schools a D+ in their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure report. Dilapidated school facilities can negatively affect student learning and health as indoor air quality problems can aggravate respiratory illnesses, reduce student and teacher attendance and performance, and increase risk of transmission of respiratory infections like COVID-19.
Energy consumption is the second-highest operational expense schools face with a significant portion of this energy lost through leaky school walls, windows, and other inefficient equipment and systems. Districts that serve rural, high poverty, or Hispanic/Latino, African American, and Native American communities experience the greatest burden of failing or antiquated school facilities.
Public school facilities will be eligible for energy improvements that result in a direct reduction in school energy costs, including improvements to the air conditioning and heating, ventilation, hot water heating, and lighting systems. In addition, funding would support any improvement, repair, renovation to, or installation in a school that leads to an improvement in teacher and student health.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s grant funding will also support additional improvements, repairs, or renovations such as the installation of renewable energy technologies, the installation of alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds such as school buses or the purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school.
DOE encourages Local Education Agencies, school staff, states, local governments, energy service companies, unions, service providers, and utilities to respond to the RFI.
The deadline to submit your response to this RFI is May 18, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET. Download the RFI to see the full list of questions and instructions on how to submit your response.