Friday, October 27, 2023

Governor Hochul Announces Over $14 Million Awarded To Improve Air Quality And Reduce Emissions In Under-Resourced School Districts 

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced over $14 million in awards for 11 under-resourced public-school districts to decarbonize their buildings through the Clean Green Schools initiative. The projects will lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the school's reliance on fossil fuels and improve the indoor air quality by installing ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and electric kitchen equipment. This announcement supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 and ensure 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of clean energy investments directly benefit Disadvantaged Communities.

“Schools can open an entire world of possibilities and opportunities to our children, but for students to get the most out of their education, they must be in a healthy and safe learning environment,” Governor Hochul said. “Clean Green Schools allows our schools in underserved communities to make vital energy efficiency upgrades to their facilities that improve indoor air quality and support the success and well-being of students across the state.”

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Clean Green Schools awards will support the installation of ground source heat pump projects, air source heat pump projects and electric kitchen equipment projects in the Enlarged City School District of Middletown in Orange County, Cuba-Rushford Central School District in Allegany County, and multiple districts within the New York City Department of Education. These under-resourced school districts contain at least one school building that is located in a disadvantaged community.

The projects are expected to benefit nearly 5,800 students by reducing greenhouse gas carbon emissions equivalent to eliminating 112,500 gallons of gasoline consumed annually.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “New York’s Clean Green Schools initiative will help to improve student productivity while helping to lower energy costs for schools that are facing already stretched budgets. There is no better investment in the future than those that ensure our children have the best possible environments in which to learn and grow, and we are proud to be able to support our next generation of leaders.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The $14 million in grants awarded today are bolstering the cleaner energy transformation underway in New York’s schools, helping us achieve the State’s climate mandates while improving air quality for school children, particularly in schools in communities most vulnerable to the effects of harmful air pollution and climate change. I applaud Governor Hochul’s continued investment in Clean Green Schools and look forward to working with DEC’s State, school district, and community partners to bolster this and other green initiative supported through the historic $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act.”

Clean Green School Awards:

Cuba-Rushford Central School District, Allegany County – $6.1 Million: The under-resourced school district will be improving the energy performance of building envelopes at multiple facilities while partially replacing the existing fossil fuel space conditioning and domestic hot water systems with ground source heat pumps. The project covers three buildings in the school district and integrates clean energy concepts into the classroom with clean energy lesson plans and post-construction project tours for students and the community.

The Enlarged City School District of Middletown, Orange County – $ 4.03 Million: This under-resourced school district is planning to install ground source and air source heat pumps, in addition to a building management system with demand control ventilation. The project will feature electric HVAC systems with improved components and operation to provide better air quality in the classrooms and throughout the building. The systems will be installed at the Twin Towers Middle School, which will become a learning laboratory for the district, allowing students to tour and observe the ground source heat pump mechanical room to learn about clean energy technologies. 

The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), New York County, Kings County, Queens County, Bronx County and Richmond County – $4 Million: The NYCDOE is installing clean energy technologies in place of existing fuel oil fired domestic hot water (DHW) and natural gas kitchen equipment as part of NYCDOE’s commitment to full building electrification. This funding will impact nine public schools in New York City, allowing them to transition away from fossil fuels by installing electric air-to-water domestic hot water (DHW) heat pumps and electric kitchen equipment.

With the passage of the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act (Environmental Bond Act), NYSERDA anticipates launching a second round of the competitive capital funding program by the end of the year which will expand access to funding to support decarbonization construction projects and serve as a model to electrify the school building sector.

On Earth Day 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of the $59 million Clean Green Schools initiative. The Clean Green Schools initiative provides technical, financial, and human resources support to help under-resourced public schools to improve their facilities, bringing energy efficiency, clean energy, sustainability, resiliency, and electrification solutions to the benefit of the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Funding is offered on an open-enrollment basis for services to help schools evaluate, plan for, and facilitate energy reduction projects, clean energy projects and indoor air quality projects in addition to competitive funding, as awarded today, to install capital projects that will help schools improve their environmental sustainability and decarbonize their buildings. To date, 1,300 under-resourced schools across 75 districts in New York State are participating in the program to receive technical assistance to assess indoor air quality, energy reduction, electrification and decarbonization projects. These projects are located across 35 counties in New York State.

All public-school buildings across New York State that are designated as high-needs by the New York State Education Department or located in a disadvantaged community are eligible to participate in the program. Eligible schools are referred to as “under-resourced” schools. As of now, there are approximately 2,500 eligible under-resourced schools in New York State.

In addition to this effort, NYSERDA also provides technical assistance to non-under-resourced schools through the Flexible Technical Assistance Program. The Flexible Technical Assistance Program can help schools identify and evaluate opportunities to reduce energy costs and incorporate clean energy into their capital planning. NYSERDA also prioritizes improved indoor air quality and environmental sustainability through building electrification and energy efficiency improvements to improve health in public and private buildings across the state through a partnership with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). 

Buildings are one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State and through NYSERDA and utility programs, over $6.8 billion is being invested to decarbonize buildings across the State. By improving energy efficiency in buildings and advancing statewide installations of onsite storage, renewables, and electric vehicle charging equipment, the State will reduce its carbon pollution and achieve the State's ambitious target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 TBtu by 2025, the equivalent of powering 1.8 million homes.

Funding for this initiative was made possible through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the State's 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund, which is authorized by the New York State Public Service Commission. More information about this funding is available on NYSERDA's website

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $55 billion in 145 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and over 3,000 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and more than 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.

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