New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $100 million is now available through the Clean Green Schools Initiative. The funding will support under-resourced public schools with projects to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve environmental sustainability, and decarbonize school buildings.
“Creating a safe and healthy learning environment is critical to providing our children the best education possible,” said Hochul. “These investments will make our school facilities cleaner and more sustainable—and will have a tremendous positive effect on future generations of students.”
Launched in April 2022, the initiative is funded by the state’s $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act. It also aligns with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals to cut state GHG emissions 85% by 2050 and ensure at least 35% of the benefits from clean energy investments be directed to disadvantaged communities.
As climate change increases the number of high-heat days, schools are struggling to keep cool due to outdated infrastructure in dire need of repairs or upgrades to clean energy technologies. To help address this, Hochul announced in this year’s State of the State address that New York will expand funding for cooling capacity for schools while they decarbonize through the Clean Green Schools Initiative.
Currently, this program serves under-resourced public schools and helps them become sustainable, resilient, and healthy learning environments in their community by upgrading to clean energy technologies to mitigate poor indoor air quality (IAQ) from pollution and wildfires. This investment will also protect against extreme heat by prioritizing funding for efficient cooling systems in schools serving vulnerable populations. The state will encourage communities that receive this funding to install cooling systems that can be opened to the community during extreme heat events to help prevent heat-related illness or death.
Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the competitive application process is now open to public school districts across the state. Districts are eligible to apply if they are designated as high-needs by the New York State Education Department or located in a disadvantaged community as defined by the New York State Climate Justice Working Group.
Incentive amounts start at $500,000 for qualifying projects leading to improved air quality, increased resiliency, and a pathway toward electrification. Proposals are due on June 6 by 3:00 p.m. ET. NYSERDA will host a webinar for interested parties on Feb. 7.
The $100 million in new Clean Green Schools funding builds on $14 million awarded in October 2023. Through that round, 11 under-resourced public school districts received funding to modernize their buildings, lower GHG emissions, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and improve IAQ by installing ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, and electric kitchen equipment.
To date, 1,500 under-resourced schools across 85 districts in 35 counties in New York are receiving technical assistance to assess IAQ, energy reduction, electrification, and decarbonization projects.