Rep. Cartwright and Rep. Welch Introduce Bill to Save Energy while Improving School Learning Environments
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright and U.S. Representative Peter Welch re-introduced the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act (H.R. 627) with the support of education and environmental advocacy groups and 43 bipartisan cosponsors. First introduced in the 113th Congress, the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act unanimously passed the House in 2014 and 2016.
This legislation provides a coordinating structure to help schools better navigate available federal programs and financing options for energy efficiency improvements to their facilities.
“This bill promotes strategic and cost-saving investment while improving our schools and protecting the environment,” said Rep. Cartwright. “It lessens burdens on school administrators by establishing an efficient, one-stop shop for schools, providing administrators with better access to information and resources for implementing these upgrades.”
According to Energy Star, America’s schools spend $7.5 billion per year on energy costs, making energy an enormous part of schools’ operating budgets, second only to personnel costs.
In addition, many schools are in urgent need of improvements. One Department of Education survey found that 43 percent of schools indicated that the poor condition of their facilities interferes with the delivery of instruction. Many of the problems often involve the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Upgrading these systems enables schools to improve their learning environments, save on energy bills, and focus scarce funds on other priorities for our children.
Specifically, the Act would:
- Establish the Department of Energy (DOE) as the lead agency in coordinating a cross-departmental effort to help initiate, develop, and finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and retrofitting projects for schools.
- Require a review of existing federal programs and financing mechanisms; the formation of a streamlined process of communication and outreach to the States, local education agencies, and schools of these existing programs; and the development of a mechanism for governors, state energy programs, and local educational and energy officials to form a peer-to-peer network to support the initiation of the projects.
- Require DOE to provide technical assistance to help schools navigate the financing and development of these projects to better ensure success.
“By streamlining existing programs and cutting red tape, our bill will help save energy and cut energy bills for school systems around the country,” said Rep. Welch. “We have made undeniable progress on energy efficiency in a bipartisan way, and I’m pleased to work with Rep. Cartwright to get this common sense bill signed into law during this new Congress.”
“The savings from improved efficiency are very real. We’re talking about millions of dollars, and by creating a central clearinghouse for information, this bill would help busy school districts and principals put those savings into action educating children,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, an energy efficiency advocacy group.
This bill is endorsed by the Alliance to Save Energy; ASHRAE; Green Business Certification, Inc.; and the U.S. Green Building Council.
Several groups representing school administrators have provided their support to the bill’s re-introduction this Congress. These organizations include AASA, The School Superintendents Association; Association of Educational Service Agencies; Association of School Business Officials International; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium; National Rural Education Association; and Rebuild America’s Schools.