Green Building, Heating and Cooling, Maintenance and Operations, Safety, Sustainability/Business Continuity

EPA Offers $32 Million to Help Schools Boost Indoor Air Quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of up to $32 million to address indoor air pollution at K-12 schools in “overburdened communities.” The announcement comes just days after the EPA awarded nearly $1 billion for zero- and low-emission school buses.

This new funding opportunity is made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act and available through the EPA’s Grant Funding to Address Indoor Air Pollution at Schools Program. It will provide resources to organizations that help K-12 schools in low-income, disadvantaged, and Tribal communities develop and adopt comprehensive indoor air quality (IAQ) management plans to reduce indoor air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in schools.

“Every student should be able to learn and thrive in a healthy school environment,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “EPA is working with our partners to equip schools in overburdened communities with resources to develop and implement plans that improve air quality and energy efficiency, ensuring that students and staff are breathing cleaner and healthier air in school every day.”

The Issue

According to the EPA, air pollution has been linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and can cause them to miss school or reduce normal activities. Children face risks from indoor air pollutants like radon, asbestos, mold, methane, and pollution, such as particulate matter from vehicle exhaust, that gets into classrooms from the outdoors. There are also serious risks to children from GHG pollution, like more frequent exposure to heat waves and wildfire smoke.

The EPA said helping schools to develop comprehensive plans to tackle air pollution will help prevent respiratory illnesses in children and staff working in schools, while improving student attendance, performance, and comfort, particularly for vulnerable students with asthma.

This program advances President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

Funding Opportunity

The EPA anticipates awarding four to six grants of $5 million to $8 million to support five years of school IAQ and energy efficiency activities. Eligible projects to benefit schools include IAQ and GHG reduction capacity building, training and education campaigns, and research and demonstration projects.

Nonprofit organizations, state governments, and other eligible entities with experience administering national, regional, or multi-state IAQ programs that have achieved positive impacts in communities (especially with schools and Tribal entities) are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply for the competitive grants is March 19. The EPA estimates that the grants will be awarded by fall 2024.

For more information on this funding opportunity, including details on informational webinars, click here.

ALSO READ: How Are Facilities’ Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality Connected?

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