The Biden Administration issued a fact sheet April 4 detailing its efforts to upgrade public schools with modern, clean, energy-efficient facilities and transportation, which will deliver health and learning benefits to children and school communities, save school districts money, and create jobs. The action plan activates the federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance solutions, including energy efficiency retrofits, electric school buses and resilient design.
The plan will save schools and taxpayers money. Public K-12 districts spend $8 billion a year on energy bills — the second largest expense after teacher salaries. Energy efficiency improvements to HVAC systems, lighting, insulation and other energy upgrades can protect the health of children and unlock significant savings to go toward students and learning.
The action plan for building better school infrastructure will:
- Invest in more efficient, energy-saving school buildings: The Department of Energy is launching a $500 million grant program through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make public schools more energy efficient. This new program will lower energy costs, improve air quality, and prioritize schools most in need, enabling schools to focus more resources on student learning.
- Improve classroom air quality through the American Rescue Plan: The administration is supporting states, school districts and local communities in leveraging American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief resources to address school infrastructure needs — like repairing, upgrading, or replacing of ventilation systems; purchasing air filters and portable air cleaning devices; and fixing doors and windows so that schools can stay open for in-person learning. Additionally, the Department of Treasury will soon release additional information to help school districts understand how they can use recovery funds for a range of air quality and other school facility improvements, including energy efficiency.
- Help schools access resources and best practices: The White House is releasing a toolkit to help schools and school districts access available funding, as well as technical assistance opportunities and planning tools to help schools improve air quality, energy efficiency and more. This new toolkit will further support school participation in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which the administration recently launched to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve indoor air quality in buildings of all kinds, including schools.
- Expand Clean and Safe School Transportation: The Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the Department of Energy, is releasing new online resources to help school districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. To support projects that help students safely walk and bike to school, the Department of Transportation has provided state and local governments with new guidance to access $90 billion in available federal funding, including Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs.
Investments to Improve School Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality
The Department of Energy has released a Request for Information to launch its new $500 million grant program for energy improvements at public school facilities, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The administration is also leveraging the American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed into law one year ago, to address a range of health and safety issues in schools.