Congressman Matt Cartwright

Representing the 17th District of Pennsylvania
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Cartwright, Gibson, Welch Re-Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Encourage Energy Efficiency in Our Schools

Feb 5, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Chris Gibson (NY-19), and Peter Welch (VT-AL) re-introduced the bipartisan Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act.  First introduced in February 2014, H.R. 4092 unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives during the 113th Congress.

Currently, there are numerous federal initiatives available to schools to help them become more energy efficient.  However, these programs are spread across the federal government, making it challenging for schools to know where to look and how to take full advantage.

This no-cost, commonsense legislation will streamline the federal government’s process while still leaving decisions to states, school boards, and local officials about how best to meet the energy needs of their schools.

“Our children deserve to attend school in a safe and comfortable learning environment.  We must also learn to utilize energy in an efficient, responsible, and effective manner if we are to attain energy self-sufficiency,” said Rep. Cartwright.  “This legislation allows us to accomplish both goals.  It establishes an efficient one-stop shop for schools and directly benefits children, school employees, and the environment.”

Specifically the Act would:

  • Require the Secretary of Energy to establish a centralized clearinghouse to disseminate information on federal programs, incentives, and mechanisms for financing energy-efficient retrofits and upgrades at schools.
  • The bill would direct the Secretary to work with other federal agencies to develop a comprehensive list of such federal programs and to streamline efforts to publicize them through education and outreach.

“Improving energy efficiency is one of the simplest and most effective means of lowering energy costs, including in our rural school districts,” said Rep. Gibson. “I am a longtime supporter of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Account for this very reason.  Today, I am happy to co-introduce this important legislation to help provide clarity to local school districts about available federal programs and funding opportunities to assist in developing and implementing energy efficiency in our schools.”

“Too many of our nation's schools are in dire need of repairs. Outdated and inefficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems are wasting millions of dollars on utility costs that could be better spent on education and school improvements.  By streamlining existing programs and cutting red tape, our bill will help save energy and cut energy bills for school systems around the country. I’m encouraged by the progress we made on energy efficiency in the last Congress which demonstrates overwhelmingly bipartisan support.  I am pleased to join with Reps. Cartwright and Gibson to get this common sense bill signed into law during this new Congress,” said Rep. Welch.

An estimated 14 million American children attend deteriorating public schools.  Many of these schools’ problems involve the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems.  According to a Department of Education survey, 43 percent of schools indicated that the poor condition of their facilities interferes with the delivery of instruction.  By upgrading these systems, energy efficiency is increased, learning environments are improved, and scarce funds are conserved.

“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, our schools spend over $6 billion dollars on energy costs each year-- the second highest operating expense after salaries. Yet, DOE also estimates the average school could reduce utility bills by 25% through basic operational changes. The Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act provides a clear pathway for our nation’s schools to capitalize on efficiency improvements and redirect dollars to where they matter most – the classroom,” said Rachel Gutter, Director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council.

ASHRAE President, Tom Phoenix said, “ASHRAE is proud to continue its support of the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act, and encourages its passage in the House again this year. The Society commends Representatives Matt Cartwright and Chris Gibson for their bipartisan leadership on energy efficiency in schools.

“School districts and communities across the United States have long expressed a broad interest in and need for making energy efficiency improvements. Problems with school buildings are widespread and distributed throughout the nation, with about 14 million students attending schools that need extensive repair. Many of these problems involve the heating, ventilating, air conditioning systems – the very systems responsible for vast amounts of energy consumption and the creation of healthy and comfortable indoor environments. By upgrading these systems, energy efficiency is increased, learning environments are improved, and scarce funds are conserved.

“The Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act would make it easier for schools to tap into existing federal programs and financing mechanisms, helping to improve the energy efficiency and learning environment of schools. ASHRAE strongly encourages Congress to support improvements to energy efficiency and healthy indoor learning environments by passing this bill.”